SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - No survivors have been found since the day of the collapse of a condo building in Surfside, but doctors and other medical professionals have been on site, standing ready for anything.
Dr. Howard Lieberman is a trauma surgeon for Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, and he is also part of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Urban Search and Rescue’s Florida Task Force 1 team.
“With any kind of natural disaster, you are gonna have victims,” Lieberman said. “You are gonna have injured people that are found at the scene that are going to need immediate medical attention. I slowly transitioned from my role as trauma surgeon with Jackson Memorial Hospital to what is called a Medical Team Manager.”
Lieberman has traveled to other parts of the world to help in emergencies, but last Thursday, he was called to Surfside.
“I want to save every patient,” Lieberman said. “I want every patient to walk out of the hospital.”
Lieberman has the responsibility of helping save those that may be trapped under the rubble and may need to be treated immediately.
“There is always the saying, ‘Life over limb,’ so if you need to amputate someone’s leg or someone’s arm to save that individual, then that would be something that I would be called to do,” he said.
With state of the art equipment, the surgeon said he has everything needed to make sure he can do his part to the best of his ability.
“We have the equipment. We have the knowledge. We have the skills, and we have the training,” Lieberman said. “If I had to, I could do surgery pretty much anywhere I needed to.”
Lieberman said when the search teams began removing personal belongings from the rubble, like teddy bears and toys, it really hit home, but the hardest part was when the families started visiting the collapse site.
“After seeing the second round of family members come to visit, I had to leave,” he said. “I couldn’t stand there anymore. It was too emotional.”
However, rescuers will not give up on their search for survivors, no matter how long it takes.
“We are incredibly driven and determined in what we do, and if we don’t get the results that we want, you know, that is the pressure we put on ourselves,” Lieberman said. “We’ll be here until every piece of debris is removed.”
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett has reiterated rescuers do not have a resource problem, but they have a luck problem.
A typical deployment for a task force member is 14 days, but rescuers plan to stay for as long as needed.
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