Medical Miracles in Beslan

Guncharov arrived in Beslan on Sept. 2 with a team of 20 medical professionals from Moscow. Nine of the pediatric specialists were from Moscow Children's Hospital No. 9, which specializes in burn treatment. The group from Moscow met up with 200 other emergency services professionals from hospitals and field units in neighboring regions and began setting up the mobile unit in the parking lot of the local hospital in Beslan.

By the morning of Sept. 3, the team had set up a sophisticated field unit made of inflatable tents that was ready to accept patients. The unit was equipped with 70 ambulances, a tent for triage, numerous surgical stations and areas designated for victims with specific health concerns, such as diabetes and heart conditions. The unit even had oxygen-producing machines and mobile CAT scan stations.

When the bombs in the gym began to explode the injured and wounded flooded into the tents. Because of the large numbers needing treatment within the first few hours, one of the most important and difficult tasks the doctors faced was prioritizing the arriving patients. Guncharov told his people that they should only take one minute to determine what treatment an arriving patient needed. "Because if they took two, three, four or five minutes there would have been a backup of patients. ... You have to consider that while you assist one patient another may perish."

Incredibly, within the first four hours after the siege, 47 life-saving surgeries were performed and not one patient was lost. Altogether, 527 victims passed through the mobile unit, were given treatment and then sent to nearby facilities if further care was needed.

Over the next week, 94 children were flown to Moscow. More than 130 people from Beslan have now received treatment in Moscow hospitals.

Even the most experienced of the group was touched by the tragedy before them. "We've been working with children for years and I saw one veteran specialist who'd seen lots of terrible things in their life, working with tears in their eyes," said Suleyman. But standing outside of Azam, the "miracle baby's" hospital room in Moscow, Suleyman said that he and his colleagues do feel that they performed their duties well. "It's been a very successful mission from the medical point of view, but let's pray that such things will never happen again."

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