NEW YORK – Victims of the World Trade Center attacks streamed into hospitals, nursing homes and triage centers Tuesday as thousands of blood donors lined up across the country.
Amid the confusion, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said at least 600 people had been taken to hospitals by midafternoon, and some 1,500 “walking wounded” were taken across New York Harbor to New Jersey’s Liberty State Park, near the Statue of Liberty.
A mobile hospital set at Liberty State Park expected as many as 5,000 casualties, said New Jersey Hospital Association spokesman Ron Czajkowski. “Every hospital in the state is in disaster readiness mode,” he said.
Officials at the Manhattan trauma centers closest to the Trade Center – St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center – said they said had received only people who were injured outside the twin towers, and that the number would likely rise dramatically once rescue workers started digging into the rubble.
One man with burns was taken to New Jersey’s Jersey City Medical Center by Steve Newman. He was on Manhattan’s West Side Highway, riding a livery cab to work, when he saw the man blown out of the lobby of one of the Trade Center towers.
“I took him and said, ‘We’ve got to get him to a hospital,’ and the only way to the hospital was across that river,” Newman said. He got the man onto a water taxi.
Other victims were sent for treatment to New York state psychiatric hospitals, said Denyce Duncan Lacy of the Public Employees Federation union, which represents some hospital workers. State officials also used empty beds in nursing homes.
The state Health Department lined up emergency supplies of tetanus vaccine from Pennsylvania.
North of the city in Connecticut, Stamford Hospital was on high alert and preparing to receive patients by helicopter. Several Boston hospitals canceled elective operations to conserve supplies.
The Navy sent ships to New York and Washington that included surgical teams and limited hospital bed capacity.
The American Red Cross did not call for emergency blood donations, saying it had 50,000 units ready to ship to New York if needed, but donors offered their blood at cities around the nation.
Hundreds lined up outside Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, and the wait at one uptown Blood Center branch was five hours.
“It’s a crisis. You must help,” 19-year-old donor Jessica McBlath said at St. Vincent’s.
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