In the brutal aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Inglese, medical director of the Orleans Parish Jail in New Orleans, struggled to keep his wards alive for a full week after the levees broke. As his straightforward account illustrates, it was no easy task. Power went first, then potable water, then food, while the prisoners, abandoned to the stifling heat of the cell blocks, began to riot. A former army officer, Inglese possessed the determination and organizational skills to rally his staff in the chaos, and their professionalism undoubtedly saved many. Despite his M.D. and military background, Inglese seems like a regular guy-a regular guy who barely mentions his hobbies, opinions, past, friends or life outside his job and thereby never really takes shape as a character. The prose is pedestrian and abounds with clunkers like "My stubborn streak kicked in." Yet Inglese's single-minded focus on the minutiae of navigating the disaster slowly brings out the inherent drama of his story-from swimming through the sewage-fouled water to facing down desperate prisoners. Inglese never assigns blame, but the fact of his isolation and the dangers faced by his little group highlight the absolute incompetence of the official response. Despite the book's shortcomings, Inglese brings the human scale of the tragedy to life. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
No Ordinary Heroes: 8 Doctors, 30 Nurses, 7,000 Prisoners, And A Category 5 Stormby Demaree Inglese, Diana G. Gallagher
You Will Feel The Heat From This Gripping Tale From Ground Zero At Katrina. --Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.
On the night of August 27, 2005, Dr. Demaree Inglese was one of many New Orleans residents convinced that approaching Hurricane Katrina would pass with minimal impact. The next few days' events would prove how mistaken they all were, and Dr. Inglese, medical… See more details below
You Will Feel The Heat From This Gripping Tale From Ground Zero At Katrina. --Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.
On the night of August 27, 2005, Dr. Demaree Inglese was one of many New Orleans residents convinced that approaching Hurricane Katrina would pass with minimal impact. The next few days' events would prove how mistaken they all were, and Dr. Inglese, medical director of the New Orleans city jail, would lead his staff through a crisis of deadly proportions. . ..
"A Page-Turning True Story. . .Inglese Tells It Brilliantly." --Dennis M. Powers, author of Sentinel of the Seas
Massive flooding transformed the sprawling jail complex into an island in the crippled city. Without power or running water, and with food supplies dwindling, the medical team cared for thousands of inmates, staff, and neighborhood residents, while deputies struggled to maintain order. Rioting prisoners, burning buildings, SWAT team rescues, and medical emergencies all conspired to create a storm within a storm.
"Brings The Human Scale Of The Tragedy To Life." --Publishers Weekly
Vividly re-creating seven days that felt like an eternity to those who survived them, No Ordinary Heroes is a stark, revealing testament to the power of the human spirit in the most harrowing circumstances.
"There's No Putting This One Down." --John Gilstrap, author of Six Minutes to Freedom
With 16 Pages of Dramatic Photos
Updated with a New Epilogue
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NO ORDINARY HEROES8 Doctors, 30 Nurses, 7,000 Prisoners, and a Category 5 Hurricane
By Demaree Inglese Diana G. Gallagher
CITADEL PRESSCopyright © 2007 Richard Demaree Inglese and Diana G. Gallagher
All right reserved.
Hurricane Katrina is declared a category 5 storm, with winds at 160 mph.
The eye is still 250 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The Superdome opens as a shelter at 8 a.m.
At 10 a.m. Mayor Ray Nagin orders a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans.
"He died?" I coughed to clear my throat. The phone call from the jail had awakened me from a deep sleep, and my thoughts were fuzzy. No wonder, I realized with a glance at the clock on my bedside table. It was 6:54 a.m. After a Saturday-night foray to a club on Bourbon Street, I had slept less than four hours.
"Yes, Dr. Inglese," a deputy sheriff said. "At Charity Hospital, half an hour ago."
"I'll be right there." I groaned when he hung up. Next-of-kin notification was one of my more unpleasant duties as the head physician at the New Orleans jail.
Swinging my legs off the bed, I rubbed my eyes. Carl Davis, a violent repeat offender with advanced cirrhosis, had spent the past two and a half years in the jail infirmary, and though my medical staff worked hard to give all our inmates excellent care, hisdeath had been inevitable.
A hot shower washed away the remnants of Bourbon Street dirt and smoke, and I checked a mirror. My close-cropped hair needed barely any attention, but beneath my dark, thick eyebrows, my eyes kept trying to close. The stubble on my square jaw could stay. I hated to shave.
By the time I put on green scrubs and went to the kitchen, I was almost awake. Except for a few packets of instant grits, my cupboards and refrigerator held few promising prospects for breakfast. My house had just gone on the market, and the realtor was starting to show it. I didn't have the time or patience to clean the kitchen on a moment's notice.
It wasn't that I wanted to leave town. I had put a lot of time and effort into this house. A hundred years old, near Tulane University, it had hardwood floors, ceiling medallions, elaborate moldings, a veranda, a slate courtyard, gardens-all the elegant charm of historic New Orleans, plus two newly renovated floors, the result of hours of my free time over the past eighteen months. But I no longer wanted to spend my weekends and evenings working in the yard or making repairs. A condo was much more practical for a thirty-nine-year-old single man with two jobs and an active social life, and I eagerly wanted to move into a new place I'd found on the river.
The condo, close to the gym where I worked out almost every day, was also near my favorite restaurants and the park where I ran-and a quick ten minutes to my haunts in the French Quarter. And it didn't hurt that the condo provided an excellent view of the Mardi Gras parades. When it came to being a doctor, I took my work seriously, but I also loved New Orleans and its lively party scene.
I wolfed down a bowl of grits and listened to the latest weather report. Tracking the progress of Hurricane Katrina had engrossed the entire city over the past few days. But because New Orleans had a two-decade history of bad storms swerving away at the last moment, most residents retained a devil-may-care attitude that was at odds with the increasingly serious predictions and the hurricane's current path. Despite the morning's sun, Katrina was still bearing down on New Orleans, and it had just been upgraded to a category 5-potentially catastrophic.
It was only about three miles and a ten-minute ride to my office at the Community Correctional Center. But I hadn't bothered to fill up my Mercedes yesterday, foolishly assuming I'd have all day today to do that. Instead, I took the patrol car I used for official business, but its gas gauge, too, hovered near empty. Procrastination was one of my bad habits. Though I made sure everything at the jail ran like clockwork, I tended to put off mundane personal tasks, like paying house bills and filling gas tanks.
As I drove down the oak-lined roads of my uptown neighborhood, I was struck by how deserted it was. No one was out on the porches that wrapped around the gracious Victorian homes. The boisterous Tulane students who normally clustered on the streets were absent. Even more worrisome, every gas station I passed was closed and boarded up.
I caught a glimpse of the Broad Street pumping station, which kept below-sea-level New Orleans dry in ordinary weather. Katrina would undoubtedly give those pumps a real workout over the next few days.
A twinge of panic pierced my fatigue. I couldn't have known an inmate would die, but I was beginning to regret going out last night. A more prudent man would have gotten gas and gone shopping instead. Too late now, I thought, as I turned onto Tulane Avenue, a main city thoroughfare, which led right past the jail complex. Notifying Carl Davis's next of kin and preparing the necessary reports had priority over gas and hurricane supplies.
Since Davis had died of natural causes, telling his family might be easier than when I had to explain an unexpected or violent death. He had cirrhosis of the liver, an incurable disease, and the inmate's condition had deteriorated steadily despite aggressive medical treatment. That didn't mean, however, the family would take the news calmly. After six years at the jail, I hadn't been able to alter the public misconception that inmates were given inadequate care. That belief was too entrenched to dislodge.
Maybe the hurricane would keep the story off the front page, though. Newspapers and television routinely presented a skewed account when reporting the death of an inmate, ignoring critical facts that exonerated the medical staff. The New Orleans jail booked 105,000 arrestees per year and averaged only eight deaths, one-third the national average. The low death rate was even more impressive considering the nature of our jail's population. Most of the inmates came from an impoverished, drug-using, inner-city environment, and almost all had medical problems: 5 percent had HIV, 20 percent latent tuberculosis, and 29 percent hepatitis. A quarter of the inmates suffered from mental illness, and 70 percent had drugs in their blood at the time of booking. The homeless and indigent lacked primary care, and some deliberately committed minor crimes to get access to the jail's medical services.
I was proud of what we'd accomplished. In 2000, Charles C. Foti Jr., the sheriff of Orleans Parish for thirty years-later Louisiana's attorney general-had hired me to reorganize and improve the jail's medical department. I instituted many new programs, including screening and treating inmates for communicable diseases, which significantly curtailed the spread of infections throughout the city. Just last September, in 2004, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care had recognized the jail for providing outstanding medical care at a low cost. Unfortunately, most of the public hadn't noticed.
Bad publicity plunged to the bottom of my things-to-worry-about list as I parked across the street from the Correctional Center's glass-fronted entrance. Its towering ten stories underscored the building's importance as the command center for the thirteen buildings that made up the jail. Slamming the car door, I ran up the front steps and took the elevator to Medical Administration on the second floor.
Paul Thomas, the director of nursing, stepped out of his office as I walked through the door. "What are you doing here so early?"
"Carl Davis died at Charity Hospital an hour ago." I walked past the bathroom and into my office, one of seven spartan rooms that opened off the center hallway. Fluorescent lights lit the corridor, which ended at a small barred window. My office was like most of the others: a computer stood on a cheap pressed-wood desk that took up much of the stained tile floor.
"Like you don't have enough to do today." Paul paused, his burly frame filling my doorway.
"I have to notify Davis's family before I do anything else." I sank into my desk chair and looked up. "Did the mayor order a mandatory evacuation?"
"Not yet, but he will," Paul said. The soft-spoken fifty-two-year-old was the department hurricane fanatic and de facto alarmist. Whenever a tropical depression was upgraded and named, tracking charts went up on his office wall. He logged on to weather websites, made meticulous contingency plans, and kept everyone in Medical Administration advised of course changes and projections. The downside of Paul's obsession was his insistence that every new storm would be the one to finally ravage New Orleans.
"I decided to bring the nurses in at three instead of six," he said. "If we don't get everyone here early, some of them might not show. This storm's a bad one, and people are starting to panic."
The gravity of the approaching storm made my windowless cinderblock office seem smaller and more cramped than usual. I called a deputy in the Communications Division, which relayed calls and information throughout the jail complex, then talked to someone in the Special Investigation Division. SID deputies handled the detective functions of the sheriff's office, and they were already looking for Carl Davis's next-of-kin.
I began collecting all the records pertaining to his illness, treatment, and death, including a download from Charity Hospital. The massive, free-care medical center stood a mile and a half down Tulane Avenue past the courthouse. Staffed by the Schools of Medicine at Tulane and LSU, the facility was a Level 1 trauma center. That was where we sent inmates who were too sick to be cared for in the jail's infirmary.
As the hospital record printed out, I called the infirmary, where Davis had been housed. Every inmate had a medical chart, containing doctor's notes, X-rays, lab results, and medication records. I would need the complete file to conduct a thorough case review. Two hours later-with periodic interruptions by Paul to let me know of Katrina's worsening outlook-I had all the necessary paperwork on Davis, but SID had still not located any family member. Assuming they had evacuated, we postponed the notification until after the hurricane.
On my way out of the building, I ran into Captain Allen Verret, the associate warden of the Correctional Center. A barrel-chested man of forty-three, with a mustache and brown hair flecked with gray, he had the calm, assured presence of a born leader. He instilled confidence and treated his deputies with the same respect they felt for him.
"How's it going?" I asked. The Correctional Center warden-each building in the jail complex had its own-was away on vacation, and Verret was in charge.
"It's been a busy couple of days. I barely had enough time to see my wife and son off to Mississippi and pack a bag for myself." Verret's manner was off-hand, but deep worry lines creased his face. He was obviously preoccupied with serious matters.
"I don't really believe all this," I confessed.
"You're not the only one," Verret said. "I just came from a meeting with the sheriff and his officers."
Verret told me he and several others had voiced serious reservations about keeping the inmates at the jail. I had raised similar concerns myself yesterday, and I certainly wouldn't have been shy about arguing had I been invited to the meeting. I could be insistent and even headstrong when pressed.
But now that Jail Administration was certain that Katrina would hit, they felt there was no longer time to evacuate almost 7,000 prisoners. In addition to the usual 6,400 inmates, the facility had taken in 374 prisoners from neighboring St. Bernard Parish, which was considered more likely to flood.
"We don't have enough food, water, flashlights, and batteries stored in the warehouse," Verret continued. "If we're here longer than a couple of days ..."
"We're as prepared as possible in Medical," I assured him. We'd been implementing our disaster plans for a couple of days. "The clinics have been stocked with supplies, and the nurses will pass out extra meds just in case."
"Good." Verret nodded. "Jim Beach wanted to distribute food and water to all the buildings before the storm, but Administration decided to wait."
As the director of Food Services, Major Jim Beach was responsible for providing 20,000 meals a day to the prisoners. On a routine day, three cooks and two dozen inmate workers prepared breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the kitchen, then transported the food-one hot meal and two cold ones daily-to each of the jail buildings, where deputies and inmates carried it to the tiers, as the barracks-like cells were known. The hurricane would undoubtedly create problems, and Beach was trying to anticipate them.
As I left Verret and walked outside, Paul Thomas's latest bulletin weighed on my mind: "The Mayor just ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city. This is going to be brutal."
Katrina was the worst storm to threaten the Louisiana coast in recorded history. There was nothing more I could do to prepare at the jail, and I still had to gas up two cars, buy food and water, and pack.
Chapter TwoAs I drove away from the Correctional Center, I used my cell phone to call the St. Tammany Parish Jail, where I held a second job as medical director. The smaller facility was forty-five miles north, close to Lake Pontchartrain, which put it at considerable risk. The staff there had a well-thought-out hurricane plan, and with only one building to cover, preparations were proceeding on schedule.
Next I contacted Sam Gore, the doctor who had overseen Carl Davis's treatment in the infirmary. Not surprised by the patient's death, his matter-of-fact tone masked the sympathy he felt for all those in his care. "Did you tell his mother?"
"No, his family probably left town," I explained.
"That's what the sane people are doing," Sam quipped. "Lisa and the kids are already gone. I've got some last-minute things to take care of, but I'll see you soon."
Sam and I had been friends since our residency at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, a dozen years ago. Later we were stationed together again at Andrews AFB, near Washington, D.C. I grew used to his unflappability; he addressed all situations-good and bad-with the same unemotional detachment. He didn't shout. He didn't raise his voice. In fact, there was little about Sam that made him stand out in a crowd. About five-foot-ten and average weight, he looked like the best friend of the main character in a TV sitcom. His most prominent physical characteristic, a dark brown cowlick, stuck up just like Harry Potter's. But his mental toughness, and our many years together, had taught me to rely on him without question. I would do anything for close friends and colleagues. And I expected them to respond the same way. True to form, Sam had readily agreed to work throughout the storm.
When Sam hung up, I dialed Gary French at his house, a quarter mile from Lake Pontchartrain. I'd known him for years, too, ever since he had been my medical student at the Andrews AFB hospital. When I became medical director at the New Orleans jail, Sam and Gary were the first doctors I recruited.
If Sam was stoic, Gary was not. Thirty-five and five-foot-nine, he had the sturdy build of an ex-high school wrestler and the disposition of a born pessimist. During the buildup to a crisis, Gary always appeared frantic, but when hell broke loose, he was focused, steady, and got the job done. When I had asked him to work during the storm, he'd balked at the idea of staying in the city during a category 5 hurricane. However, despite his reluctance, I wasn't worried. He always came through.
"Made up your mind yet?" I asked when Gary answered his phone.
"I'll be at the jail."
I smiled. "The hurricane wouldn't be the same without you."
"I know I'm going to regret this," Gary muttered, then added, "At least Allen's gone. He took the dogs to stay with his family in Arkansas."
I was glad that Sam's family and Gary's roommate had already evacuated. The normally bustling city streets were empty of traffic, virtually deserted. Obviously everyone had headed to the interstate, and even with contraflow in effect-using all the lanes to send cars out of New Orleans-traffic on the highway would be bumper to bumper.
Excerpted from NO ORDINARY HEROES by Demaree Inglese Diana G. Gallagher Copyright © 2007 by Richard Demaree Inglese and Diana G. Gallagher. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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This book was really good, i didn't want to stop reading it. It's about a prison that has to evacuate cause of hurricane katrina, and the very short staff of the medical team trying to help the police get them out. There is hardly any help, bearly food and water, no electricty, just pure caios. And you are in the middle of it. Cheering on the doctors and nurses, shaking you head at some of the police, hoping the whole time they get the prisioners out before they drown to death, but scared they wont be able to in time or scared a complete riot wll happen. Aughhhh....i loved it.
As indicated by the author, this is one of the only documented 'heat of the action' books about the storm. That's what sets this book apart from everything else that has come before it on the subject. Everything is speaks to the whys and whats of the situation as a whole. This is from the standpoint of people who actually lived through the ordeal and the subsequent hardships. It is fast paced, action packed and totally exciting. There is tragedy but the way it is handled by the doctors and nurses and deputies - well it just makes you want to shake their hands. Pick this up if you want to know what it felt like to be in the heat of the battle right on the front line.
I am one who hates to read, I finished this book in 2 sittings. It's tragic and exciting all at the same time. I laughed, I tiered up a few times, and I'm very proud of the people who survived, and strived to help so many others, during such a terrible time. I hope that I could have done the same. I can't wait until a movie comes out.
while the entire country sat glued to their televisions watching the aftermath of the storm, the storm showed the nation how some people find the strength and courage to suvive and save others in the face of adversity.
This book demonstrates the true heroes of the storm (and failure of the federal goverment). So much publicity goes to all the negatives, but this well written book shows how real people fought to survive.
Dr. Inglese showed strong leadership, a leadership that I'm sure is sorely lacking since he is no longer Medical Director at Orleans Jail. This was an amazing book.
I couldn't put it down. From the first signs of the hurricane to the heroic rescues this book was deffinately one of my favorites.
This face-paced book was so engaging and interesting that I read it in one sitting - I honestly couldn't put it down. While it's impossible to truly imagine what it would have been like to be trapped in a jail with thousands of hungry, violent inmates, dealing without power, swimming through foul water to carry out duties that many workers abandoned, Inglese's dialogue and characters make you feel like you were there. Like Into Thin Air or The Perfect Storm, the book not only tells a gripping adventure story, but one that was even more engrossing and readable. There are a lot of stories about prison life, from the perspective of inmate or guard, but the story of the people who are charged with caring for the people whom society would like to ignore is rarely told. This book tells the story of those people, the nurses and doctors who cared for the discarded in the face of one of the country's worst natural disasters. The resulting tale of heroism, comraderie, danger, and humanity makes for a great read.
The dedication of those medical and correctional staff personnel at New Orleans Parish Prison during this disaster is unimaginable. As the author is recounting factual events, the reader can only marvel as the characters' dedication in caring for others takes precendence even when faced with their own life-threatening situations. This is an intriguing look at a different side of Katrina's devastation and is a story that deserves to be told!
Sometime in the early 1700s a power mad, wine crazed Frenchman named Bienville (or was it Iberville, who knows or cares, they both have streets named for them) staggered to the railing of his ship and said, ¿I want a city right here.¿ It turned out that right here was not such a good place. Right here was actually only about a mile or mile and a half of dry land north of the river, beyond which lay a shallow swamp that eventually lead to a pretty large lake. Today, residents of New Orleans know precisely where the swamp began because in 2005 their houses were flooded with water seeking to recreate it as it was in 1825. Some were flooded about five feet, half way up the first floor and those closer to the lake got up to twelve. After Katrina it was water, water everywhere and not a drop that is drinkable. Indeed, touchable if it comes to that. The drama of this book (and it is excellent drama) is surrounded by water, water filled with poisonous snakes, human feces, the occasional alligator and covered with a toxic sheen of diesel fuel. It is the medium through which Dr. Demaree Inglese, his colleagues, a score and a half of nurses and guards had to wade and swim to deliver health care to 7000 of the world¿s nastiest prisoners, most of whom are intent on ¿getting out¿ as soon as possible. This book is about these brave people, all of whom could have opted at any time to simply ¿disappear¿ --as for example, two-thirds of the city police department did --at any time. What happened to them, how they coped with this disaster (partly caused by nature and partly by a non-functioning city government) is brilliantly told by Dr. Inglese in a book that is as fast moving and engaging as any thriller. In fact, it is so well narrated that I had to keep reminding myself that these were real people who had real experiences. Even if you don¿t give a damn about Katrina or New Orleans, you¿ll find this book engrossing. I won¿t give the ¿plot¿ away, but you can imagine what happens when some the prisoners do escape. It is told with gripping intensity by Dr. Inglese. Covering the period from the day before Katrina arrives to the day after all the prisoners are moved to other prisons in Louisiana when they can leave knowing everyone who needed treatment got treatment. If the books first theme is water, its second theme is the dedication to service. Not only were prisoners having asthma and heart attacks as well as severe cases diarrhea and headaches treated, but so too were the 300 or so civilians from the nearby neighborhood who gathered at the prison thinking its escape proof cement building would be a good place to sit out the storm. The story tells of setting up emergency clinics, retrieving medicines from angry, murderous and sometimes psychotic prisoners, treating horrendous cases of trench foot (a disease not heard of since WW I) on guards forced by circumstances to stand in the water for as long as 16 hours. It tells of guards, doctors and nurses having to fight back prisoners into their cells. It tells of prisoners urinating on the nurses and medicine meant for them. It all happens in the dark--there is no power--and accompanied by the constant din of verbal abuse from the prisoners and the smell of the feces contaminated water that surrounds them. Not only is the ethic of service upheld by the doctors but the nurses and guards as well. The nurses in particular give flavor and dimension to this book. A truly unbelievable crew ranging from a sixtyish, male nurse with a prosthesis of the foot that made walking down dark flooded halls particularly harrowing, to a tall fiery red head whose name Scarlatt tells it all¿she took no sass from the prisoners¿to a tough customer named Duane who not only heals but does some things vis a vis the prisoners even the guards balked at. All in all when you pick up this book be prepared to spend some time with it because you wont be able to put it down.