Doctors emerging as heroes of Katrina

Good article (requires annoying but free registration): AP Wire | 09/09/2005 | Doctors emerging as heroes of Katrina.

Disasters always spawn heroes.

On Sept. 11, 2001, many of them wore dark blue uniforms that said FDNY.

On Sept. 1, 2005, many wore hospital scrubs that said MD, RN and EMT. Thousands of health care workers stayed with patients in devastated hospitals after the storm struck. Thousands more rushed in to help.

They are people like Dr. Norman McSwain, a legendary, 68-year-old Tulane University trauma surgeon who on Sept. 1 waded through fetid floodwaters to get out word that thousands of people were trapped in hospitals running out of food and water.

And Dr. Rich Tabor, a 38-year-old Bethlehem, Pa., emergency medicine physician who got partners to cover his shifts and paid $520 out of his own pocket for a plane ticket to Louisiana, where he climbed into an airboat and went door-to-door with rescue workers.

And Barry Albertson Jr., 42, a paramedic from Easton, Pa., who missed his 7-year-old son’s first peewee football game to join a caravan of ambulances making the 30-hour trip to New Orleans.

And Dr. Lee Garvey, 48, an emergency room doctor at Carolinas Medical Center who dropped everything to staff a state-of-the-art mobile hospital that provided the only trauma care for seven devastated counties in rural Mississippi.

"We’re here because this is what we live to do," Garvey said, "trying to offer something to these people."


  1. anon-e-mouse says:

    better than registering for every dang site

  2. I use it, but those registrations are still quite a pain.

  3. I think your title is inaccurate given the story mentions health-care workers of all stripes. Presumably most ‘heroic’ are the maintenance techs who managed to keep some systems running.

  4. My title is the title of the article.

  5. Hey, I am not a medical professional or an emergency services worker (just a mom). The Australian paper the Daily Telegraph is running a story alleging that patients were euthanized:,20281,16566858-5001022,00.html

    Patients put down

    September 12, 2005

    DOCTORS working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leave them to die in agony as they evacuated.

    With gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive.

    One New Orleans doctor told how she “prayed for God to have mercy on her soul” after she ignored every tenet of medical ethics and ended the lives of patients she had earlier fought to save.

    Her heart-rending account has been corroborated by a hospital orderly and by local government officials.

    One emergency official, William Forest McQueen, said: “Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die.”

    “Mr McQueen, a utility manager for the town of Abita Springs, half an hour north of New Orleans, told relatives that patients had been “put down”, saying: “They injected them, but nurses stayed with them until they died.””

    More to the story at,20281,16566858-5001022,00.html

    My smell-o-meter is pegging to the right.

  6. Wow.

    First, I agree that this is as thinly sourced as a ‘news’ report can get. I’m not going to get worked up until at least one credible source, who was an eyewitness, comes forward.

    Second, I have no doubt that everyone in those hospitals had to make hard decisions. I pray I never have to make hard choices like that.

    Let’s wait and see if any of this is corroborated.

  7. A nurse from University Hospital in New Orleans was interviewed on WWL TV ( the afternoon of 9/13, and described how medical staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit struggled to keep their patients alive. They eventually evacuated some of their charges successfully. When asked about whether or not this was heroism, she said she did what she felt she had to do.