OSAGE COUNTY, Kan. -- Dr. Mary Mackenburg-Mohn and fellow nurse practitioner Marsha Moreen started to talk about how long their trip back to Minneapolis was going to be. The two had just spent the night in Kansas, a half-way point on the way home from a conference in San Antonio, Texas.
They noticed a busted guard rail a half an hour into their trip up Interstate 35; they were somewhere in rural Kansas.
"And then we saw a woman in the middle of the bridge looking down," Dr. Mackenburg-Mohn recalled.
A moment later, they were coordinating the rescue of 18 people; they were looking for family members who were in an RV pulling a trailer. "And then when they said Minnesota, it was like oh my gosh," Moreen said.
Moreen stayed on the bridge and ran triage on the victims who were brought up the embankment by motorists who had stopped to help. Mackenburg-Mohn was coordinating rescue efforts in the stream below. "I could hear a woman crying. She was holding her son who was very seriously injured, she was in the water with him," she recalled.
The doctor knew one child had died instantly. She believed there were three or four people still trapped in the vehicle and she thought a couple of them were children. Other kids had survived with scrapes and bruises.
"People were throwing us blankets and sweatshirts off the bridge down to us so we could wrap patients with. A guy threw me a tiny little first aid kit that I was able to do quite a bit with," the Doctor said.
Meanwhile, Moreen stayed on the phone with 911 operators coordinating the rural ambulance crews, which were speeding to the scene. "These kids were coming up (the embankment). It was something to witness, it was incredible to witness because they were all supporting each other," Moreen told KARE 11.
The two nurse practitioners were on the scene for at least two hours, seeing the last of the patients into an ambulance. When they left, crews were still searching for family members. "My heart just ached all day," Moreen said. "We've been able to think about nothing else all day," Dr. Mackenburg-Mohn added, talking about the six hour drive from Kansas City to the Twin Cities.
The two medical professionals, from Woodbury and Minneapolis, said the rural EMS workers in Kansas were quick to arrive and very efficient in treating victims. They also wanted to mention more than two dozen motorists who stopped to help search and extricate family members from the vehicle.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)