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For the injury assessment, we requested and reviewed the medical records of all persons who were treated in the emergency room and released home and those who were admitted to the hospital.

Patients with tornado-related injuries were seen at 26 different hospitals in the state.

The information on persons who were admitted was pretty good overall. But, as is typical in disasters, the rapid influx of patients meant that the medical charts, particularly those persons who had minor injuries often contained little description. In some cases the records only said "tornado injuries."

Medical Examiner reports included as many details as were known from witnesses.

Because the information in the medical records was limited in many cases, we also sent a questionnaire to survivors by mail to obtain further details.

That survey also had some inherent problems:

  • Very hard to deliver mail when homes and mailboxes are gone
  • Several persons moved more than once—to a hotel or shelter, with relatives, to apartments, to rental homes
  • Surveys were mailed out 2, 3, and 4 months after the tornado.
  • The overall response rate was 46%.
  • The Medical Examiner’s office also interviewed family members of individuals who had died to try to get additional details about the circumstances of the death.