By Joe Rizza
At the Nassau County American Red Cross location at 195 Willis Avenue in Mineola, an American Red Cross worker likens the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The calls coming in to American Red Cross volunteers, trying desperately to find out any information about their loved ones who were in the area at the time of the tragedy put into perspective the grave situation that has spread from Manhattan to Nassau County.
The tragedy may have occurred in Manhattan but it has resonated throughout the United States. Now, various organizations, medical professionals and volunteers are trying as best to deal with the horrific event.
Nassau County Hospitals are preparing for an influx of patients from Manhattan. Also, it has become apparent that victims of the attack may be in desperate need of blood.
United States Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, a former nurse, has been outspoken in recent days on the importance of donating blood. Now, with this tragedy, donations are more important than ever. "Not only are we going to need blood today and tomorrow, but we're going to need it for the next several weeks," she said on Tuesday. "Any blood that we have is going to be depleted extremely fast and that's got to be replenished for just daily use."
Incidents such as the disasters on Tuesday illustrate the need for people to donate blood. "I know people are out there giving blood, but we have to make sure we have enough to get us through the next couple of weeks because those that survive are probably going to have horrific injuries," Congresswoman McCarthy said, urging people to make an appointment to donate even if it is a week from now or two weeks from now. "We already had a shortage."
But the Congresswoman knows from experience, from when her husband was murdered on the Long Island Railroad years ago, about the help New Yorkers are willing to give in times of crisis. "The New York people - we're kind of looked at as being hard nosed, but when there's a crisis, I don't think there are better people to respond. Unfortunately, as the days go on, we're going to realize the amount of tragedy that has happened. We can't even get a count on how many victims are involved," she said on Wednesday.
Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola is urging people to come and donate blood for victims of the World Trade Center bombings on Tuesday. Winthrop set up emergency blood donor sessions on Thursday and Friday at the Community Outreach Center at 101 Mineola Boulevard (corner of 2nd Street) in Mineola, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, residents can call Winthrop's Blood Donor Center at 663-9660.
Spokesman for Winthrop-University Hospital, John Broder, said on Tuesday that Winthrop was standing by to implement its disaster plan. Staff members were standing by in case Winthrop were to receive patients from New York City. As of Wednesday at 11:45 a.m., Winthrop had received 13 patients in their emergency department who had primarily come from the city off the Long Island Railroad. Most of the injuries were pulmonary-related such as smoke inhalation, and ankle injuries such as sprains. Also, a good number of the individuals had injuries such as lacerations in the eye area caused by debris. However, all were treated and released.
The hospital has been in constant contact with the New York State Department of Health in the event that Winthrop should be needed for patients. Also, Winthrop's helicopter pad was cleared and the Village of Mineola cleared one of its parks to land helicopters in the event patients need to be transferred to area hospitals.
Broder also stressed the need for blood. "At this point, they're going to need blood," he said, referring to New York and Long Island Blood Services.
Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow on Tuesday, expecting to receive patients from New York City, declared a state of emergency and called in to work all emergency personnel. In addition, four of Nassau University Medical Center's ambulances have been deployed to Manhattan to assist in transporting victims to hospitals.
"We have cleared our emergency rooms and have made beds available at A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility and throughout the NUMC," said Nassau University Medical Center president and CEO Rich Turan in a statement on Tuesday.
NUMC is also encouraging blood donations. Anyone who is able to donate blood is asked to call 572-6348 or go to the NUMC blood donor center, which is located on the ground floor of the medical center at 2201 Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow. The medical center will expand its honors on Friday, Sept. 14, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
NUMC spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg said on Tuesday the hospital was expecting to get some patients with burn injuries. "We're mobilizing in the event that we do get patients," she said. "We're just making all rooms available and sending home all patients who were just about to be discharged so that we have additional beds available."
NUMC has also made its entire Psychiatry Department available to anyone needing its services for trauma or grief counseling. For further information, call 572-6824.
The North Shore Hospital system is also enacting plans to deal with the disaster. According to JoeEllen Cole, public information officer from North Shore University Hospital at Plainview and Syosset, the hospital has initiated its disaster plan in order to be ready in case of an overflow of patients. The disaster plan includes a command center.
"We are calling in extra staff and sending home our staff who are affected," Cole said. "We expect to get minor injuries, if any. We are dealing with many issues. Are we going to get our regular supplies for the patients who are in house? Will we be getting our food deliveries for our regular patients?"
Cole also said the North Shore hospitals closer to the city could expect an overflow into the emergency rooms.
A spokeswoman for North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset said the hospital is prepared in the event that patients are sent. The spokeswoman said that North Shore Hospital is on a Level I Emergency Alert. All doctors and nurses are on call and all North Shore hospitals are discharging patients who are not considered critical. "This is to make room," she said.
The North Shore University Hospital spokeswoman said all the hospitals in their system are calling for blood and urging citizens to donate. Those in the North Shore Hospital system who wish to donate blood can call their local hospital for more information.
Town of North Hempstead Councilman Angelo Ferrara, who donated blood at Winthrop-University Hospital on Tuesday, also offered his assistance in the tragedy. Ferrara said that anyone who wants and can be of assistance in the offering of immediate blood donations should call 1-800-933-BLOOD. Residents can also call Long Island Blood Services at 1-631-927-5000. However, on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was difficult to get through.
The Keyspan Corporation set up an Emergency Blood Drive to be held on Friday, Sept. 14, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Keyspan facilities, located at 175 East Old Country Road in Hicksville.
At New York State Assemblyman Tom Alfano's district office in Franklin Square, numerous calls have come in from residents wishing to donate blood. Alfano's Chief of Staff Scott Cushing said he has been referring calls to Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream.
Spokesman for Franklin, Bruce Beaver, said the hospital has gotten tons of calls. However, Franklin is not a normal donor site so the hospital has been referring potential donors to donor sites at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, Nassau University Medical Center and Winthrop-University Hospital and two centers run by Long Island Blood Services in Lake Success and Rockville Centre.
Beaver said that citizens should be encouraged to not only donate blood now, but for the rest of the week since the blood's supply is going to have to be replenished. "The need is not going to go away. It's going to be constant," he said.
The American Red Cross of Nassau County is referring those who call wishing to donate blood to the following locations:
* Long Island Blood Services, Lake Success
2500 Marcus Avenue, Lake Success.
* Long Island Blood Services, Rockville Centre
333 Merrick Road, Rockville Centre
763-0284 (ext. 0285)
* Winthrop Hospital
200 Old Country Road, Mineola
The American Red Cross of Nassau County has also set up "drop-in stations" for those who work on Long Island but live in the city. The American Red Cross is providing shelter and other needs as they arise. The Red Cross also announced that there would be disaster mental health counselors and disaster health nurses. People in Nassau who know of a loved one who may have been impacted by the disasters can also cop to the drop-in centers if they feel they are in need of mental health counseling.
The locations are:
Nassau Community College
One Education Drive, Garden City
Long Island University, C.W. Post Campus
720 Northern Boulevard, Brookville
South Side Senior High School
140 Shepherd Street, Rockville Street
Plainedge High School
Wyngate & Peony Drive, North Massapequa
The Red Cross also set up Belmont Racetrack as a staging area for emergency personnel since the Long Island Railroad has a stop there. Winthrop is preparing and coffee and shipping it in to support the Red Cross' endeavors.
New York State Assemblywoman Maureen O'Connell provided emergency phone numbers for those who are trying to find information about their loved ones and those who wish to help. They are:
For information regarding missing individuals, call:
(518) 458-8111 (Ext. 3032)
To donate supplies such as water, blankets, etc., call:
To donate blood, call:
(Denise D'Alessandro contributed to this story.)