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City hospitals' readiness put to test after blast

By Carla Hinton and Brian Brus

April 20, 1995

Oklahoma City area hospitals had prepared for it: the disaster that would send hundreds in desperate need of emergency attention to local medical centers.

Thus Wednesday, just minutes after a fateful bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, most area hospitals put their disaster relief plan into effect.

It was the best possible response to the worst situation they had ever seen, local hospital officials said.

At St. Anthony Hospital, 1000 N Lee, many of the first 60 explosion victims brought in had his or her own doctor, officials said.

That's because hundreds of volunteer physicians, nurses, medical students and emergency response paramedics showed up at the hospital to offer aid.

"This response has been overwhelming," said hospital spokesman Gary Humphrey.

St. Anthony Hospital officials said a total of 153 victims were treated there Wednesday.

Gurneys and wheelchairs lined the side of the building as medical personnel waited for ambulances. Several people brought victims to the site in their own cars and trucks.

The scene was much the same at University Hospital, 940 NE 13, where spokesman Jake Lowrey said all clinic appointments and elective surgeries were canceled in order to free up all available medical personnel to help with the expected victims.

University Hospital officials said doctors from as far away as Springfield, Mo., and Dallas had telephoned, offering to help if more assistance was needed.

The hospital treated 41 patients 1 for various injuries, including glass and shrapnel wounds, head trauma and fractures, officials said.

Children's Hospital treated 18 patients, most of them children, a spokesman said. One victim was an 18-month-old child suffering from multiple fractures and burns over 45 percent of its body.

Dozens of medical personnel stood ready at Baptist Medical Center, 3300 Northwest Expressway, but only a few walking wounded were brought in by private vehicles from the downtown area.

Baptist hospital spokesman Randy Sachs said about 35 patients were treated by 2:30 p.m., but only two of those people were admitted to the hospital.

Presbyterian Hospital received more than 70 patients, including 14 that were treated and released and four people that remained in the intensive care unit Wednesday, said hospital spokeswoman Lil Kenney.

Many hospitals in outlying areas sent medical personnel to hospitals near downtown and to the bomb site.

Shawnee Regional Hospital reported it sent six doctors, 23 nurses and an ambulance with a load of medical supplies to Oklahoma City to assist hospitals.

While hospitals such as University, Children's, St. Anthony's, Baptist and Presbyterian received the greatest number of injured, some of the injured were also taken to outlying hospitals such as Southwest Medical, Mercy, Midwest City Regional, Edmond Regional and Norman Regional.

Staff writers Lisa Beckloff, Allison Day, Jim Johnson, Chip Minty, Peggy Gandy and Sharon Dowell contributed to this report.

2005 The Oklahoman, NEWS 9 and Oklahoma City National Memorial.
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