Reno: A 10th person died overnight from injuries suffered on Friday in the nation`s deadliest air racing disaster, a crash that also sent about 70 people to Reno-area hospitals.
Saint Mary`s Regional Medical Centre spokeswoman Jamii Uboldi said on Monday morning the patient who died was male, but she couldn`t immediately release his name, age and hometown.
Amid the horrific aftermath of the crash, a sort of calm pervaded.
Witnesses were spattered with blood and pieces of flesh, yet video of the scene shows paramedics, police and spectators attending to the wounded with a control that seems contradictory to the devastation.
Officials and those in the tightly-knit air racing community credit not only a detailed plan for just such a crash, but the type of people at the event: pilots, veterans and others accustomed to dealing with a high-pressure situation.
Doctors, nurses and military veterans from the crowd volunteered their services to emergency crews, said Reno Fire Battalion Chief Tim Spencer, a 29-year veteran who has worked at the air races for 27 years. Those without medical skills helped firefighters transport the injured.
"It wasn`t uncommon to see one firefighter and three people in civilian clothes carrying a litter to the proper area" for evacuation, Tim Spencer said. "Everybody pulled together perfectly and worked side by side."
Such cooperation helped save Ed Larson, one of the victims cut down by a wall of shrapnel kicked up when the Galloping Ghost, a souped-up WWII-era P-51 Mustang fighter plane, crashed into the VIP section Friday, disintegrating over a two- to three-acre area.
Metal fragments and wreckage hit Larson, 59, in the head and back and legs, shredding his calf and severing his Achilles tendon. He was knocked unconscious but came to as he was being loaded on a transport helicopter.
"All I saw was a real coordinated effort," Larson said from a wheelchair at Renown Regional Medical Centre, which handled 36 of the most severely injured patients, including two who died.
The carnage left even seasoned emergency room surgeons and rescue workers shaken.
"This is the worst I`ve seen," said Dr Mike Morkin, the emergency services director at Renown. He did his trauma training at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and helped in the aftermath of Chicago`s Paxton Hotel fire that killed 19 people in 1993. Yet he said he had never seen so many patients with such severe injuries at one time.
Paramedics, police and firefighters, hospitals and event organisers had drilled for such a disaster, some just hours earlier.
"This happened so fast, there was just a sense of shock. But people were very calm. You know, they didn`t know me. They came, held my hand, told me I was going to be all right," Noah Joraanstad, a 25-year-old commercial airline pilot from Anchorage, Alaska, said from his hospital bed at Northern Nevada Medical Centre in Sparks. "They walked into a scene where people were amputated, whatever, and just carnage everywhere, and they decided to help. To me, those were the real heroes."
Emergency workers were quickly putting into practice the skills they`d learned in drills. They separated the wounded depending on the severity of injuries as ambulances and transport helicopters moved in. A Vietnam-era Huey helicopter from a military display was pressed into service to fly victims to the hospital.