By Jerry HarbenAugust 13, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Army News Service, Aug. 13, 2007) - Disasters often result in pain, crippling injuries and death. But they can also bring out the best in people.
Such was the case Aug. 1 when the I-35 bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minn., collapsed. About 100 people were injured, seven were killed and six were still missing one week later.
On the scene helping were Second Lt. Nathan Lund, an Army Reservist attending the University of Minnesota Dental School, and his wife, Christine, a registered nurse.
The couple rushed to the bridge after Second Lt. Lund's brother called to say he witnessed the bridge fall.
"We threw on our scrubs, grabbed a tourniquet, masks, gloves and a stethoscope and ran to our car. We're five miles from the bridge and got there within 10 minutes," Second Lt. Lund said.
After looking for injured people at the northwest and southwest corners of the bridge, they were told by a police officer that help was needed at the southeast corner - on the other side of the still unstable bridge.
The two boarded an emergency watercraft for the triage area.
"Everything was on fire, live wires making sparks ... There were eight to twelve injured people in a row near the bridge," he said.
While Christine checked patients' lungs, Second Lt. Lund - who, as a dental student, received the same anatomy classes as medical students - checked vital signs and palpated abdomens.
"The bridge was still shaking and creaking, so we moved the patients about 30 yards. Then four more pickups arrived and we put the other patients in them (for evacuation)," Second Lt. Lund said.
"There were a lot of broken backs and ribs, internal bleeding, but not severed arms or legs. One girl had both legs fractured at 90 degree angles. Another person had a lung punctured by a broken rib."
After loading the wounded for transport to a hospital, the couple moved to a Red Cross station and waited until 10:00 p.m. to see if more patients would be found.
ABC News last week named Second Lt. Lund its Person of the Week.
"I think you have an obligation to help people if you can. And as an officer, I think we should set a good example," he said.
(Jerry Harben writes for the U.S. Army Medical Command.)