Asiana Flight 214 Passenger Medical Injuries
As of July 16, there have been 3 passenger fatalities as result of the Asiana plane crash. According to the San Francisco Fire Department’s Assistant Deputy Chief Dale Carnes, a total of 181 people were transported to San Francisco area hospitals, and 49 of the injured people were referred to as “serious” and were part of the initial emergency transport effort.
In an ABC News report, San Francisco General Hopsital's chief of surgery Dr. Margaret Knudson, revealed that many patients were covered in what was characterized as "road rash," a phenomenon more closely tied to people in motorcycle crashes when they aren't wearing leathers. Knudon also said that many patients suffered severe abdominal bleeding that might have been caused by the plane's seat belts. At least two individuals with spinal fractures were paralyzed and others suffered head trauma. Some passengers sustained broken ribs or fractured sternums from the crash. Others experienced minor burns and many had short-term breathing difficulties as a result of the smoke and fumes, or possibly from outgassing.
In addition to the injuries suffered as a result of the crash, there may have been more injuries sustained during the rush exit of passengers and crew from the plane onto the runway and subsequently during the emergency response effort.
One of the fatalities, 16 year-old Chinese student Ye Meng Yuan was reportedly hit by one of the San Francisco Fire Department fire trucks during the rescue effort. San Francisco police spokesman Albie Esparza told CNN that the victim may have first been inadvertently covered in thick fire-fighting foam that the firefighters were spraying onto the burning plane. The fire trucks, hesitant to get too close to the burning plane, first shot fire-supressing foam from powerful canons atop the fire trucks, covering the fuselage and the area surrounding the plane before approaching. The foam product was likely AR-AFFF, a synthetic foam developed for fighting fuel-based fires.
“When the truck repositioned itself to get a better aim of the fuselage, they discovered the body of the victim in the fresh track from the path of the truck. The foam was thick enough to cover a body. Moreover, it is difficult for those in the "industrial-size" fire trucks that responded to crash to see things on the ground.”
The first fire trucks reportedly responded to the crash within 3 minutes. But the over 300 people on board did not begin exiting the plane for 90 seconds until after the crew had communicated with the tower. Other than the fatality, little is known at this point regarding the amount of exposure of other passengers and crew to the chemical foam product.
There have been many reports in the media about emergency 911 calls from passengers who were complaining about the absence of ambulances at the crash scene. One of the callers pleaded with the 911 operator:
“There are no ambulances here. We've been on the ground 20 minutes. There are people lying on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries. We're almost losing a woman here. We're trying to keep her alive.”
NTSB will investigate whether any potential delay in the emergency response harmed any of the survivors . Additionally, the NTSB and local authorities will see whether any additional survivors were injured by emergency vehicles responding to the accident site.