Methodist nurse, husband sprang into action as stage collapsed 

Aug 15
2011

Courtesy of NWI Times

GARY | From her seat in the grandstand, Doreen Norris-Stojak watched in horror Saturday night as the main stage at the Indiana State Fair crashed to the ground. But after a moment of initial shock, she sprang into action.

"I was amazed that there were only five people killed. I thought there'd be hundreds." -- Doreen Norris-Stojak, of Beecher, Ill., who assisted the injured Saturday at the Indiana State Fair

"I said, 'I'm a nurse. I need to help people.'"

Director of Women and Children Services for Methodist Hospitals in Gary and Merrillville, Norris-Stojak and her husband, Frank Stojak, a Methodist Hospitals plant manager, were among the estimated 12,000 people waiting for the country group Sugarland to take the stage in Indianapolis.

After the opening act performed for about an hour, a radio DJ came on the stage and warned of the possibility of severe weather.

Minutes later, she said, the scene became chaotic.

"A wind picked up and you could see (the stage) starting to sway, then it all just collapsed," Norris-Stojak said.

As some began to swarm the exits, Norris-Stojak said others were flipping over metal barriers to get to those who were trapped. She and her husband met an Indiana State Police trooper in an enclosed area under their seats and offered to help.

For some 90 minutes, the Beecher, Ill., residents were among a number of doctors, nurses and medical professionals in the crowd who volunteered in a makeshift triage area under the bleachers.

"There were a lot of lacerations, a lot of people bleeding," she said. "I was amazed that there were only five people killed. I thought there'd be hundreds."

Norris-Stojak said as she tended to their wounds, her husband wheeled patients out to waiting ambulances.

She said they both never thought twice about helping.

"It was the right thing to do," she said. "You go into nursing for a reason, to help people."

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