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Day 02, The Tragedy : Nepal Earthquake

Day 02, The Tragedy : Nepal Earthquake

April 26th was quieter with only moderate jolts of aftershocks. Whole team of doctors and nurses and paramedics came in for regular work.

We had a joint meeting in the morning with all departments including radiology, anaesthesiology, orthopaedic surgeons, physiotherapists, ortho surgeons, administration, emergency, nursing, pathology and pharmacy. Plan was to remain organized and work in a co-ordinated manner. We temporarily shifted the operation theater to the emergency room on the first floor. All patients were kept on the first floor in the general wards and in the lobby and physiotherapy department. OPD patients were seen at the front of the hospital in front of the circular garden.

Surgery was planned for six patients with open and closed tibia and femur fractures. Suddenly there was this big jolt of earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale at around 12 56 in the noon. There was chaos in the OR and everywhere. People were running helter- skelter. The organized activity turned very disorderly. There was no room left in the front of the hospital as all patients from the first floor came pouring out in the front open space. There were more patients coming to NOH from outside than we could handle and there were patients relatives and by-standers crowding the place. Crowd management became very difficult. Police were called in to control the crowd and all except one attendant was allowed for each patient. The gate into the hospital was controlled and finally the scene turned manageable.

Patients, attendants and health care givers all were frightened. Only three surgeries were possible that day and OR had to be cancelled. Decision was made to turn NOH into a field hospital. NOH asked for tents from Red Cross and Army and other organizations. No government help came through. NOH had run out of medicines and plaster casts and bandages and painkillers. Finally at 400 pm one tent donated by UNICEF arrived and it was quickly assembled by NOH staff and there were impromptu tarpaulin tents made to house the patients in the front space of the hospital. NOH canteen ran out of food and arrangements were made to stock food for staff and patients and also for medicines and supplies. All shops were closed.  Chaos was compounded by rain and quickly patients were arranged tightly under the UNICEF tent and the makeshift tarpaulin covers. By late evening one army tent arrived and some more patients were housed there with some being stationed in the reception and registration areas on the ground floor.

Till morning X-rays and lab tests were done and in the afternoon, these were stopped and splinting and bandaging of fractures and dislocations were done. Open wounds were cleaned and dressed and splinted. We called that damage control. Dislocations were relocated with IM analgesia. Most patients were advised to come later for admission as there were not enough beds. Around 60 patients needed surgery.

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