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First responders come together to answer the call during Winchester tornado

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Posted at 6:23 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 18:38:53-04

WINCHESTER — It’s been nearly a week since an EF-3 tornado struck Delaware and Randolph counties.

While we've heard of people reaching out to help clean up the damage and donate the essentials, it's also important to see how first responders helped.

“My first thought was who is going to live, who is going to die, what happened and what’s coming next,” J. Scott Ries, MD and Emergency Medicine Physician for Ascension St. Vincent, said.

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It was a night that Ries says he’s prepared for.

“When I walked through the doors, as the nurses were calling me, there were about 10 to 12 patients just standing there dazed, uncertain of what happened. All they could say was Taco Bell had exploded,” Ries added.

Ries was working at the Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Winchester the night an EF-3 tornado came barreling down.

At the time, there were roughly 38 patients who needed help.

“I had one of the EMS directors come to me and say, 'Dr. Ries we have 21 ambulances outside your door. Tell us who needs to go where and we will get them there,'" Reis said.

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Reis calls what happened next simply amazing.

“We had nurses who just finished a 12-hour shift come back to help,” Ries said.

In total, anywhere from 300 to 350 people responded to the call for help, including volunteers, nurses and doctors.

“People that aren’t even associated with the hospital that live in the community came in without question and said what do you need,” Samantha Morris, NP, said.

RELATED | Tornado damage resources available for Hoosiers in Delaware, Randolph counties (

In a typical 24-hour period, the hospital will see anywhere from 12 to 15 people. During the 24-hour tornado period, it saw more than 50.

“We are not designed to do everything, but we are designed to be prepared for anything, including a disaster like this,” Ries said.

In a time of need, they answered the call.

“They banded together after the disaster and it’s been beautiful to see,” Reis said.