How trauma doctors and nurses saved the lives of smuggling victims

While several of the smuggling victims died at the scene and while being treated, the number could've been higher if local doctors and nurses hadn't sprung into action when the victims arrived.

SAN ANTONIO - Last month, 30 undocumented immigrants were rushed to area hospitals after being rescued from a hot truck. Seventeen had life threatening injuries and two died while being treated.

But those numbers could have been higher if doctors and nurses responding to these patients hadn't acted fast.

"Most of these patients were experiencing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke," said Dr. Josh Watson, an ER physician. "You can have confusion, seizures, patients can have organ failure, like heart failure or kidney failure."

Temperatures reached 101 degrees that night and authorities say it was much hotter inside the truck. Doctors and nurses say that they train year-round to be ready to deal with mass casualties.

RELATED: Several smuggling victims released from hospital

"The biggest thing is triaging the patient, so it's going to be finding out who is the most critical patient and getting them the care first, life-saving interventions making sure that nobody dies on us," said Kelsie Reeh, a registered nurse and trauma program manager with Baptist Health System.

With these patients whose medical records are unknown and who may not be able to communicate with doctors because of language barriers, the already stressful environment can be even more challenging. 

"Adrenaline hits, you don't necessarily have time to let your emotions hit. Then, on the back end, you're able to sit and you're like, 'Wow, I can't believe that just happened,'" Reeh said. "But it feels good to know that you were there and able to help these patients."

© 2017 KENS-TV


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