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Tornadoes in Cumberland, Wake test local emergency rooms

Posted April 18, 2011

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— The severe weather system that spawned 62 tornado touchdowns throughout central and eastern North Carolina Saturday tested the disaster response capabilities of local hospitals.

As the storm swept through Cumberland County, catching many people by surprise, at least one person was killed and dozens were injured. Authorities said they treated 50 people at field clinics and took 35 to local hospitals.

Despite storm warnings throughout the day on Saturday, some people went about their business as usual, including barber William Parker.

“Well, we were watching Channel 5. Matter of fact, I was working, cutting a head of hair,” he said.

Suddenly, the storm front he was monitoring on television was blowing through the front door of his barber shop, in the 4600 block of Yadkin Road in Fayetteville, where roofs were ripped off businesses and cars were lifted off the ground.

Parker said he ran for cover, but when the dust cleared, he found himself lying in a pile of bricks and rubble. He had two broken ribs, a broken collar bone and a badly swollen knee.

“By the time that wind blew, it seemed like something just sucked the whole top up. The wall caved in on me,” Parker said. “The guy working beside me, he got hit in the head. I don’t know what happened to him.”

A group of Fort Bragg soldiers came to Parker’s rescue, he said.

“The guys in the military rose to the occasion because they threw all that stuff off of me,” he said.

storm victim Tornadoes in Cumberland, Wake test local emergency rooms

Parker was rushed to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where emergency room doctors hustled to deal with the influx of storm victims.

Dr. Keith Messner said the approximately 20 patients who piled up in the hospital's waiting room after the tornado had mostly broken bones and lacerations. Some had head injuries, but they were all suffering from terror.

“You not only had to deal with the physical injuries, but the emotional injuries as well,” Messner said.

“I’d never seen anything like that in my whole life,” Parker said, adding that he’s surprised to be alive.

In Wake County, three children died. Dozens of people were injured.

Throughout the WakeMed system, emergency rooms in Raleigh, north Raleigh, Cary and Apex treated a total of 47 patients with storm-related injuries. Thirteen patients remain hospitalized, two were transferred and 35 were treated and released, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday.

The hospital urged people involved in storm damage clean-up efforts to take extra safety precautions, especially when working with chainsaws to clear fallen trees and branches.

“Chainsaws are inherently dangerous tools, and people who do not have experience simply should not operate a chainsaw,” said Dr. Osi Udekwu, director of the trauma unit at WakeMed's flagship hospital in Raleigh.

“Chainsaw lacerations are very difficult to treat because they do not cause clean cuts,” Udekwu said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency echoed WakeMed’s concerns. The agency cautioned anyone using chainsaws in the relief effort to review the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s chainsaw safety information.

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  • jwms32 Apr 19, 2011

    Good to now know where they stand as far as training and response efforts and time go....but as far as I am concerned, Cumberland County residents were hung out to dry! My family listened to Channel 5 by radio the entire time and received one call (Tornado Warning) from Greg Fishel and it was announced that Cumberland under a warning...then the next thing you heard were people in Godwin, Wade and Erwin to take shelter immediately. ALL THAT WAS BEING TRACKED AT THAT TIME WAS THE ONE IN RALEIGH!! MAYBE SOME OF OUR RESIDENTS COULD HAVE BEEN SPARED IF THE FOCUS WASN'T ON ONE AREA BY THE IMMEDIATE TV BROADCASTER AT TIME. NICE INTERVIEW ON CNN, BTW!!!! REALLY GLAD YOUR FAMILY AND THE RESIDENTS OF THAT NEIGHBORHOOD ARE SAFE!!

  • allie19 Apr 19, 2011

    I thought that was Halifax? I may be wrong. Have talked to some of the staff where he left and they said it has taken them 9 years to recover fromhis being there! That is so sad. Wakemed has a lot of good people but Atkinson is driving them away. Don't know how this is going to affect his "run for governor." I don't see why the news refuses to investigate the Atkinson story. There are HUGE issues there! And then to openly accuse UNC of not "taking their share of indigents?" Really? He is near downtown, what do you expect? And he always talks about how Wake is so proud that they do that for the community unlike "the other hospital" (Rex) as they say in orientation! Everyone needs to be taken care of and as a health care professional it is not my right to decide who gets cared for or not, I care for eveyone as if they were my mother. Thats what we do. But now that money has hit him and it is getting worse he blames UNC? That was a bit far fetched! It is so bad when your employees are sea

  • risteveh Apr 19, 2011

    Don't forget that Atkinson also brought in a company to tell him where to save money. He gets 2+million a year and has to have someone hold his hand with the budget. Maybe he should be shown the door here like he was at Cape Fear when he drove it into bankruptcy.

  • risteveh Apr 19, 2011

    Quote:Wakemed is all about building freestanding emergency rooms! They have more than anyone else and that is one reason they are in such a bind. Harnett county has no hospital? As far as "promising for 5+ years", they had at one time stopped any pay raises, except for atkinson of course, stopped the wakeshare program, stopped contributing to your retirement, and were shutting down units to save money but claiming the hospital was full. Not good things to do to keep your good nurses. Maybe if they took care of their employees instead of building free standing emergency rooms all over north carolina, they might be a little better off. Plus, employees that are happy generally make patients happy. Employees that are always told they are expendable, may not work as hard to do that because it all goes unappreciated and unnoticed.:quote

  • allie19 Apr 19, 2011

    Wakemed is all about building freestanding emergency rooms! They have more than anyone else and that is one reason they are in such a bind. Harnett county has no hospital? As far as "promising for 5+ years", they had at one time stopped any pay raises, except for atkinson of course, stopped the wakeshare program, stopped contributing to your retirement, and were shutting down units to save money but claiming the hospital was full. Not good things to do to keep your good nurses. Maybe if they took care of their employees instead of building free standing emergency rooms all over north carolina, they might be a little better off. Plus, employees that are happy generally make patients happy. Employees that are always told they are expendable, may not work as hard to do that because it all goes unappreciated and unnoticed.

  • Fuquay Resident Apr 18, 2011

    Now if WakeMed would hurry up and build that hospital in Harnett county that they have been promising for 5+ years, there would be more ER beds.