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From Passenger To Practitioner: Trauma Surgeon Aboard Metro-North Train Helped Victims

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As injured commuters found themselves helpless after the Metro-North train crash Friday night, for one man, instinct took over.

Dr. Dan Solomon of Yale New Haven Hospital  immediately rushed to help others in the aftermath of the derailment.  The highly trained trauma surgeon quickly became a commodity among the casualties.

“I announced that I was a doctor, that I had trauma training and I asked if there was anything I could do and I was pointed toward the third car and told that there was a woman on the track,” said Solomon.

Dr. Solomon pulled one woman up from the tracks after she fell through a hole that was ripped in the train’s wall.  The doctor saw severe head and abdominal trauma on the woman.

After taking notes on her injuries he moved on to help other wounded passengers in a makeshift triage alongside the tracks.   Before long, Solomon had helped several patients and emergency medical crews were arriving.

“I gave them the list of my findings and I told them that these two were probably the most critically injured,” said Solomon.

He is particularly thankful and surprised that the woman flung to the track made it out.

“In trauma surgery here at Yale we talk about mechanism a lot, the kinetics of energy that a trauma victim absorbs. And given the mechanism of her injury I was convinced that she couldn’t be alive.”

While his experience and efforts were priceless, Solomon remains humble about his heroics and credits police, firefighters and EMS workers with the heavy lifting and says his thoughts are with the victims.

“I hope that they make a full recovery and I think based on the injuries that they’ve suffered it’s entirely possible.”

Dr. Solomon was not injured in the crash.  He was riding in the first car even though he normally rides in the third car, which sustained more damage. A friend drove him to New Haven after the crash where he worked his full shift in the operating room from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

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