What Happens When People Are Crushed by a Crowd?

      November 02, 2022 12:01

      Survivors of the deadly Halloween crowd crush in Itaewon are beginning to post about their traumatic experience on social media. 
      "I was rescued and survived, but I am posting photos of my legs to demonstrate just how much pressure was exerted at the time," wrote one survivor. The uploaded photos show the entire length of the leg covered in a purple bruise. 
      Thoracic surgeon Suh Dong-ja said, "Bruises can appear on the leg if blood vessels burst when circulation to the heart is constricted due to strong pressure to the abdomen as a body is stuck for an extended period." 
      Survivors of the Itaewon tragedy are highly likely to suffer from physical as well as emotional trauma and are being urged to seek treatment. 
      Messages for victims of the Halloween stampede are attached to the guardrail of Itaewon subway station in Seoul on Tuesday.
      If a body is subject to more than 10 minutes of strong pressure in an accident or natural disaster, compression syndrome can occur when the source of the pressure is suddenly removed. Obstructed circulation causes cells to die and give off potassium and myoglobin. When the source of pressure is removed, they spread throughout the body, causing sudden changes to blood density and triggering an emergency.  
      One result can be rhabdomyolysis, a life-threatening condition caused by muscle breakdown and muscle death. Toxins that form in dead muscles end up affecting the entire body. 
      Park Soo-hyun at Cha University said, "You should become suspicious if your urine goes brown or muscle aches and lethargy get worse and you develop problems urinating, or if swelling appears on your body."  
      Another danger is compartment syndrome, a serious condition that occurs when a large amount of pressure inside a muscle causes it to decay due to a lack of circulation. If there is no pulse felt within a particular part of your body or it goes pale and numb, treatment is needed immediately.
      The leg of a survivor of the Halloween stampede in Itaewon, Seoul is badly bruised, in this picture uploaded on social media on Monday.
      Many survivors of the crush went home dazed and confused and may have suffered undiagnosed injuries. Doctors said survivors need to check their bodies for tell-tale signs such as bleeding or bruises in the head or abdomen as time passes.
      A mental risk is post-traumatic stress disorder. Lee Hyung-min at the Korean Society for Emergency Medicine said, "Even emergency medical workers suffer huge psychological shock. Survivors and rescue workers will need psychological support." 
      People who either directly or indirectly witnessed the tragedy should seek professional help if they find themselves becoming edgy, suffer from nightmares and flashbacks of the tragedy, or find it hard to concentrate and sleep.
      Shin Yong-wook at Asan Medical Center said, "If these symptoms persist for more than a month, there is a high chance of PTSD and medical attention is necessary. If symptoms worsen, a person could end up suffering from severe depression or become dependent on alcohol."   
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