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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

October, 2005

 

Dozens Of The Living Left To Die In New Orleans Morgue
By Sandy Leon Vest

Dr. Mark Perlmutter is an orthopedic surgeon in Pennsylvania who rushed to New Orleans after Katrina hit. What happened to him-and the horrors he witnessed upon his arrival in New Orleans-was nothing less than a crime against humanity, an inexplicable crime of the most extraordinary kind.
The story was aired on CNN but like so many stories considered unfit for human consumption, it was quickly yanked, taken out of circulation leaving viewers to wonder if they had just experienced a very bad dream.
Perlmutter reported that when he arrived at the morgue in New Orleans there were some 80 people there. The problem was that at least 60 of them were still alive. These unfortunates were forced to wait to die in a room cruelly dubbed, "The Expectancy Room."
Perlmutter says he begged for the people to be removed, but that the chief medical officer at the time told him, "I'm sorry, they have to stay there to die." The doctor then went to another chief medical officer who allowed him to take four people out. Medical personnel now claim that all these people needed was water. They were suffering from extreme dehydration.
Dr. Perlmutter told the press that when he arrived at the airport-the designated medical staging area-that initially he was turned away by FEMA and that there were "no doctors available outside on the tarmac where I was assigned to work."
He said there was an obstetrician triaging on the asphalt where people were coming off the helicopters. Perlmutter said the people he saw were "being lined up head to toe at the baggage receiving area below the terminal.
"They were head to toe, four people wide, 100 yards long, ranging from people with just shock or people in coma to people with tremendous needs for insulin or medicines they hadn't had in eight days and people who were dying."
Perlmutter performed chest compressions on one person only to watch her die because of lack of assistance." He says a FEMA officer then came down and grabbed him, telling him, "you're not FEMA certified and therefore, you must leave." He asked to speak with the director, a French commander and Coast Guard official who was the local officer in charge of FEMA.
Perlmutter says he turned to the green medic who was there, who by her own admission had no experience with medicine and asked her, "how would you treat this patient with diabetic cedoacidosis (PH)?
"She asked me to define what that was... I had to leave that patient, not even being able to give her the insulin that I brought from home to give to her that could have saved her life. I was taken to speak to the Commander, who told us that we had to go. And then when I went back to get my supplies, that woman had expired."
Perlmutter says that a colleague who had traveled to New Orleans with him, Dr. Clark Gerhardt, "specially asked why... there was no FEMA doctor there to replace us... [no] FEMA registered doctor." Citing TORT reform, FEMA personnel then informed him that they were afraid of the government being sued-all the more reason, according to Perlmutter, that he should be allowed to treat people.
"I'm protected by Good Samaritan laws."
Perlmutter says they did eventually register that very day. "It took two seconds to register."
But, says Perlmutter, "the egregious violation of the responsibility dictate show many people really died. I've had colleagues who went into the morgue, a room that they called the Expectancy Room, where people were still living in the morgue. One FEMA member, he's a Chaplin in FEMA, was in the stadium and he prayed with 200 people, he tells me. And of those 200 people when they had to evacuate the stadium, he eventually saw them in the airport. He saw 80 of the people in the morgue, and 60 of them were still alive in the morgue waiting to die.

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