Scouts-L Mail Archive for August of 1999: Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City Aug 12 - 15
Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City Aug 12 - 15
James H. Moss
Fri, 20 Aug 1999 18:24:11 -0600
At 12:40 PM I was standing in the Alpenbooks booth with Bob Koch of
Alpenbooks and Phil Mesdag of Mountainsmith at the Salt Lake City Salt
Palace. We heard a rumbling and we all looked at the ceiling. People
started yelling and we could see stuff blowing in the big doors down the
hall. Then a large group of people went running past us into the bathrooms.
Phil, Bob and I surveyed the scene and decided to stay put. There was no
glass around us and we just waited. We did not want to run into the
bathrooms and possibly get trapped, we just felt safe where we were.
Afterwards Phil went to check on his people and I stayed with Bob. A few
seconds later Phil Carey of Atwater Carey a first aid kit provider ran past
with one of his employees (Judy Cranford) with first aid kits. I waited a
few seconds and thought that if they were running they may need help.
I ran to the exit close to the Wyndham and it was a torrent outside. I ran
into Don Bendell who said the windows on the Wyndham had blown out. I
looked and said it must be bad. I ran up the steps so I could see better in
the wind and saw the destruction at the Pavilions. I yelled at Don that I
was going over and took off running. I kicked some downed branches out of
the road and as I was running saw a Suburban that had most of it windows
blown out. In front of the Suburban I found Phil and Judy working on
someone. I told Judy that I was getting gloves and gear out of her kit she
had around her waist. I grabbed two pair of gloves and a roll of gauze.
(Don't ask me why!?) I took off into the Pavilion area. I met a lot of
people that were hurt and dazed. Checked a couple and kept moving. It was
my first mass causality scene and I knew to ignore walking wounded. I did
not hear any sirens at all. I kept wondering if anyone was going to show up
to help. I realized later that this was less than 2 minutes after the
tornado went through.
I went under the "toll both" for the parking lot where the Pavilions were
set up and there was a lady on a board. Another Lady was holding her head
in a C-Spine. The Lady had a strong pulse, but hard labored breathing. She
was OK for the time being, but I knew she was in bad shape. She was not
responsive to me (unconscious). The Lady holding her head said her husband
was going to get a van to drive her to the hospital. I did a quick
assessment of her spine and hips. She had a severe trauma to her head
(concussion) and her chest. I skipped her extremities in my review. I did
not have anything to work on her airway with, and she was breathing, slow
and labored, but deep. I told the lady holding C-spine not to allow her
husband to take her in the van, she needed to be transported by a squad with
life support equipment on board.
About that time I head someone yell that they found a trapped man. I knew
the lady was stable, for the short time and decided that I would go check on
the next guy. I told the lady holding the C-Spine to send someone after me
if this lady got any worse. I figured that I had 5-7 minutes before she
would start to crater. We got some towels on her to get her warm and I took
off to where the victim was trapped.
The Pavilions are "tents." They have steel frames that arch over the center
with a high point over 45 feet above. There are about 16 per 800 feet tent.
One of those had fallen over and almost at the high point, hit a man right
at the base of his neck. When I saw him the frame was down and he was under
it. A security guard told me he was having a hard time breathing. I saw a
few bubbles of air. There was old blood on his lips from his mouth, but the
bleeding had stopped. I crawled under the frame and attempted to shove my
hand down his throat to create an airway. He had a radial (wrist) pulse,
but no carotid (neck) pulse. I did not hear or feel any breath sounds. We
were both pinned so I could not turn his head. Because of the type of
injury, I was afraid to move his head. Everyone lifted the steel and braced
it so I had a little more room (18 inches). I kept trying anything I could
get my hands on to get down his throat to open up his airway. His face was
a deep blue, gray color and getting worse, although his arms were OK (good
color and response).
A minute or two after I got there I lost his pulse and had no respiration's.
About that time a fireman showed up, (with no first aid equipment) and
helped me extract the guy. I started CPR. The fireman could not get a
pulse, so I continued CPR. We rolled the guy on a backboard and moved him
away from where we were to a safer location. I continued CPR. (If you
watched CNN, that was the scene I think I was on, raising up from CPR while
the Fireman checked him.) The Fireman cleared a path through the debris to
carry the backboard out and we took him to the street where the placed an
automatic defibrillator on him and shocked him twice. No pulse and no
response. The first fireman then had other fireman move him to an
ambulance. I heard them talking about coding him (declaring him dead). I
knew the fireman moved him out of my sight because I was so vested in the
I then went back to the lady with the concussion and crushed chest. Right
when I got the she went into shock and her pulse dropped. I was scared to
start CPR if she went any further because her injuries were crushing in
nature and I could not determine how many broken bones she had in her chest.
She when gray, breathing slowed and pulse dropped. We treated for shock and
got some fireman to start working on her. I then when looking for the next
triage. I ran into a guy on the ground with lower extremity injuries. We
covered him with a tarp from the rain and kept him warm. He had several
people working on him and he was conscious and aware. I classified him as a
2 and moved on. (Triage levels are 1-2-3 and dead or near dead, 1 is
walking wounded, ignore, 2 is hurt but will live, 3 is bad shape, but can be
At this point I was soaking wet. It was still raining. I had been lying in
a puddle of water under the beam and was a mess. I walked back to the
pavilion at that point. Everything left were cuts and I was too wiped to
deal with scratches. I grabbed my bag from Alpenbooks and went looking for
Buck Tilton to debrief. Buck owns a first aid instruction company,
(Wilderness Medical Institute of Pitkin, Colorado) and I wanted to talk to
him about what I had done. He wasn't in town yet, so I grabbed more gloves
from the Atwater Carey booth and walked out the front door. (I had ripped
all my gloves trying to get my hand down the guys throat to get an airway
established.) I left my bag in the Mountainsmith booth. I did not know it
at the time, but the convention center had been evacuated because of a gas
leak. I did not notice I was alone in the building except for the Atwater
Carey people who were grabbing first aid kits and going back to a triage
As I walked out the front door of the Convention center, I found another
person who was feinting. She did not want to put her head between her legs,
so we laid her down and put her legs up till the color came back into her
cheeks. I started to walk south from the Convention center looking for more
people. I did not even know at this time, where the tornado had gone. (It
had gone Northeast) I ran into Phil Carey and talked to him for awhile then
walked North following the path. I came back after just telling people to
pick themselves up and have someone take them to the hospital because an
ambulance was going to be several hours away. (Amazing how people would
quick complaining and go find a ride.)
By this point I was starting to shiver because I was still wet and pretty
exhausted. I walked back towards the motel, but I did not have a key to the
room yet. I ran into Don Bendell again who loaned me a clean T-shirt to
wear. We walked over near the Pavilions and watched the corner drive in.
Eventually we went to the hotel and sat around. Called Mom and Dad to let
them know I was OK. I was afraid they would see the news and wonder. By
the second victim I was being photographed by a still photographer and by
the third victim I was being videotaped. The fireman finally got the
photographers out of the way. However, they have long lenses
I did not read any papers or watch TV for the next couple of nights. The
next day I just hung around the Atwater Carey booth debriefing with everyone
else. You spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you did wrong when
someone dies on you. Dr. Bill Forgey, finally arrived in town and between
him and Buck Tilton I became convinced the guy was dead when he was hit.
I experienced some real strange feelings. When they announced that four
people had died on the news, I felt better. That meant I was not the only
person who had a guy die. I was mad it took 17 minutes for first aid to get
their and the first 4 fireman I saw did not even have first aid kits.
However, people abandoned their cars in the middle of the street and ran.
Salt Lake City triage set up is a little different and they send EMT's in
without gear. However, the fireman I worked with was great. Salt Lake City
set up three command centers, now of which could talk with each other.
(That needs to be worked out before the Olympics!) The news reported that
the residents of Salt Lake City responded to the emergency at the Pavilion,
but I only saw one person who was not wearing an Outdoor Retailer badge. I
was amazed at how fast the Outdoor Industry responded to the scene. By the
time I left the Pavilion, after being their a little over 25 minutes, I had
seen four searches of the debris to find people, organized by OR people.
More importantly, every manufacture in the convention center except one,
gave up some booth space so those that were in the pavilion could show their
products. That was pretty neat.
Yours in Scouting
12340 W. Alameda Pkwy., Lakewood, CO 80228-2841
Eagle Class of 69, Vigil, Denver Area Council