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44. A First Hand Account of the Beirut Explosion and Mass Casualty


The August 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut, Lebanon is thought to be one of the most powerful artificial, non-nuclear explosions ever, causing over 200 deaths and 7500 injuries. In today’s episode, we walk through a firsthand account of what happened during this mass casualty event from the lens of an emergency physician who was there.


Listen on:





Guest Bio: Sarah Abdul-Nabi, MD is an emergency medicine resident at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. She is the author of Airway Breathing Circulation: An Emergency Medicine Resident's Experience of the Beirut Explosion.




This episode is in support of World Bicycle Relief -- delivering specially designed, locally assembled, rugged bicycles for people in need. They’ve developed an efficient, innovative, and scalable model to empower students, health workers, and entrepreneurs in rural developing regions with life-changing mobility. Donate here. We will match donations up to $1,000.


Essentials of Emergency Medicine, the conference I host each year, is happening May 25-27, 2021. For an additional $100 off registration, use the code 'orman' checkout.


We discuss:


The moment of the Beirut explosion, when the ceiling started to fall in, the room started to shake, and then everything went dark [04:40];



Sarah’s first patient, and then the deluge that arrived within 2 minutes [07:10];



The initial chaos of managing a mass casualty with minimal light, no electricity, and a damaged ED [11:10];



Being unable to stop chest compressions on a young woman with a brain hemorrhage, even after your attending tells you it’s futile [16:15];


What it was like to go back to work 2 days later and why Sarah needed to take a couple weeks off to recover emotionally [21:10];



The catharsis of debriefing, staring at nature, and journaling [23:30];


The unbearable fear and self-doubt that were part of her recovery [29:00];


Reflective solitude vs. isolation [31:30];


And more.


Shownotes by Melissa Orman, MD


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