Cocoanut Grove Fire

Point Break

Super Anarchist
26,620
4,424
Long Beach, California
As some of you may have noticed…..I’m a bit of a student of US fire history. So………80 years ago today Nov 28 1942 in Boston the Cocoanut Grove Fire occurred at a crowded nightclub . 492 deaths, the second deadliest single building fire in U.S. history behind the Iroquois Theatre Fire in Chicago. Led to critical changes in fire codes regarding exiting requirements, medical treatment of burns, mass casualty triage concepts and physiological impacts of trauma.

Two Boston hospitals, Massachusetts General and Boston City were extraordinarily prepared for the influx of casualties because of war time disaster drills and preparations just the week before. At one point burn and crush victims were arriving at a rate of 1 every 11 seconds. Heroic performance by the staff at both those hospitals who received 83% of those transported.

I can’t imagine…….
 

burndoc

Super Anarchist
1,293
344
South Jersey
I use a picture of the aftermath in my lecture. It was the start of fluid resuscitation for burns when Drs. Copes and Moore showed that the people who got more fluid did better for a while, this lead to the Parkland formula later. It was also the first time penicillin was used on people outside of research. I have been to the location.
 

burndoc

Super Anarchist
1,293
344
South Jersey
29FD2A1E-FB34-47B4-8635-48F15E4CD940.jpeg
 

Black Sox

Super Anarchist
3,168
1,216
Dublin, Ireland
It's impossible to process the idea of 492 deaths from a fire in a nightclub.

We had something similar here in 1981, the Stardust Fire. Sad to see that the contributory causes noted on that plaque, "overcrowding, locked exit doors and toxic flammable furnishings" featured in the Stardust fire, nearly 40 years later. Lessons, shmessons.

But still, 492! That fact is enough to cause PTSD all by itself, if you chose to dwell on it. How the emergency services deal with that kind of thing beats me.
 

veni vidi vici

Omne quod audimus est opinio, non res. Omnia videm
5,835
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This story really shakes me for some reason.
Burns are the absolute worst injury!
and traumatic for those involved with the initial rescue and treating of the victims.
95th EvacHosp Danang ER -PreOp
 

Point Break

Super Anarchist
26,620
4,424
Long Beach, California
It's impossible to process the idea of 492 deaths from a fire in a nightclub.

We had something similar here in 1981, the Stardust Fire. Sad to see that the contributory causes noted on that plaque, "overcrowding, locked exit doors and toxic flammable furnishings" featured in the Stardust fire, nearly 40 years later. Lessons, shmessons.

But still, 492! That fact is enough to cause PTSD all by itself, if you chose to dwell on it. How the emergency services deal with that kind of thing beats me.
Yep……only eclipsed by the Iroquois Theatre Fire….that was “at least” 602. The non exact number was due to the difficulty in accounting for everyone.
 

Point Break

Super Anarchist
26,620
4,424
Long Beach, California
Been on some VERY bad burn patients, and had one or two myself - not very bad at all. It’s bad enough in the acute prehospital setting but nothing compared to the burn unit folks. During PM training clinical phase a million years ago I did a one day rotation on the burn ward in a major San Diego hospital. Those people are unbelievable. Unbelievable. I couldn’t do it. We have had a number of our guys over the years get badly burned. We love our burn unit folks…..love them.
 

veni vidi vici

Omne quod audimus est opinio, non res. Omnia videm
5,835
1,259
Been on some VERY bad burn patients, and had one or two myself - not very bad at all. It’s bad enough in the acute prehospital setting but nothing compared to the burn unit folks. During PM training clinical phase a million years ago I did a one day rotation on the burn ward in a major San Diego hospital. Those people are unbelievable. Unbelievable. I couldn’t do it. We have had a number of our guys over the years get badly burned. We love our burn unit folks…..love them.
As a 5 or 6 year old I had vaporizer with steaming water tipped over onto my bed when my little sister put her hands on it. I remember rolling up and down the length of the bed trying to get away from it. Taipei 1954 , 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my right arm, side and back. I can still see the curled up skin looking at my arm getting cleaned up and dressed in the little Army hospital.
Later on when I was on the treating end, the pain , the smell and the shivering of the patient as the wounds were debrided and scrubbed. Horrible.
Ft Sam Houston where I did my medic training was the burn center for the poor souls flown back from Vietnam, the grounds of the hospital complex was crawling with guys in blue PJs in bandages and cast’s getting fresh air.
Sobering vision for what was in store.
 


Check your smoke detectors, particularly around Christmas trees that dry out this time of year.

Imagine the magnitude of those, then multiply by 10 from the Texas City explosion in 1947. Why there is a major burn center on a small island off the coast of Texas (Galveston)

Out of these disasters we get improved safety measures, but still have ongoing issues. Now we have live video from inside the events: Think Great White/The Station disaster

 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
70,120
13,286
Great Wet North
But still, 492! That fact is enough to cause PTSD all by itself, if you chose to dwell on it. How the emergency services deal with that kind of thing beats me.
I think it was used as the basis for a powerful scene in a Law & Order episode - Logan & Ceretta show up at the scene of a nightclub fire to see a line of covered bodies going down the street.

After a moment a stunned Logan says "I never saw so many - have you?"

Ceretta says "Never in peacetime".
 

burndoc

Super Anarchist
1,293
344
South Jersey
November 5 disaster last year in Sierra Leone was the largest burn event I was involved with. About 100 dead immediately and another 130 or so in 4 hospitals. Burn care from the sixties. Fortunately I learned 60s burn care from my mentor. No vents. No dialysis. Occasionally antibiotics and blood. Best experience I ever had.
 

veni vidi vici

Omne quod audimus est opinio, non res. Omnia videm
5,835
1,259
November 5 disaster last year in Sierra Leone was the largest burn event I was involved with. About 100 dead immediately and another 130 or so in 4 hospitals. Burn care from the sixties. Fortunately I learned 60s burn care from my mentor. No vents. No dialysis. Occasionally antibiotics and blood. Best experience I ever had.
Bless you!
 

Mrleft8

Super Anarchist
27,410
4,047
Suwanee River
Somehow I had the Triangle Shirt waist factory fire as the worst.... Maybe the worst industrial fire.... But same themes. Locked exit doors, Flammable materials, lack of fire extinguishers, and way over crowded conditions.
 

NaptimeAgain

Super Anarchist
1,707
393
Annapolis MD
Many decades ago I did a rotation in the Baltimore City ME office. A few were burn victims from dwelling fires. The smell is what I remember the most. For the survivors the scarring is just awful.
 

Mrleft8

Super Anarchist
27,410
4,047
Suwanee River
Many decades ago I did a rotation in the Baltimore City ME office. A few were burn victims from dwelling fires. The smell is what I remember the most. For the survivors the scarring is just awful.
I've recounted this story before, so I won't again, but the smell of bologna sandwiches on white bread, with yellow mustard combined with scalding hot weak coffee turns my stomach.
The stench of charring human flesh combined with screams for help, while good intentioned people are trying to keep you fed and warm at -17f is................ Something that I will never forget, and hope that I never experience again.
Mittens frozen in a curl. Beard and mustache frozen until you wiped the frozen snot off your face, and the hair snapped off like........... I don't know what. Frost bitten toes that 45 years later still feel every bump in the road, but nothing comfortable.
Fire is bad no matter where it is, when it's unintentional.....
I know there are people here who like to denigrate me, but I've been in wild fires in Ontario/ Quebec. House/ structure fires in Vermont. I've been on a boat that exploded and caught fire. I've been in exploding propane kitchen fires, I've had a VW engine spew gasoline on me and click BOOM! duck and roll!, and I've been in plain old brush fires. I'm no PB. I'm no body. But I know fire, and it's nothing to fuck around with.
 

Point Break

Super Anarchist
26,620
4,424
Long Beach, California
Somehow I had the Triangle Shirt waist factory fire as the worst.... Maybe the worst industrial fire.... But same themes. Locked exit doors, Flammable materials, lack of fire extinguishers, and way over crowded conditions.
A little more dramatic as it was upper floors with jumpers but as I recall it was a little over 100. All women which was a little more impactful emotionally I think.
 




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