- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2003

MIAMI Incoming Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon, helped tend to six victims of a rollover accident on a Florida highway yesterday, earning praise from paramedics for stabilizing some of the four survivors.
Mr. Frist, Tennessee Republican, a full-time heart and lung surgeon before being elected to the Senate in 1994, is replacing Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, who stepped down as Republican leader last month.
An Isuzu Rodeo with six persons aboard was heading west on Alligator Alley when it rolled over three to four miles west of the toll plaza in Broward County at 3:51 p.m., said Broward Fire-Rescue Assistant Chief Todd Leduc.
A tire blowout caused the accident, the Miami Herald reported.
All six passengers, including three children, were thrown out as the vehicle rolled. A 10-year-old girl died on the scene; another passenger died later at a hospital.
Mr. Frist, 50, was driving east on the highway, the Everglades portion of Interstate 75, heading to a family vacation home in Fort Lauderdale with his two sons when he came across the accident minutes after it happened.
He stopped and went to work checking the victims. When paramedics arrived, he pointed them to the victims in the most severe condition. Mr. Frist helped paramedics and several off-duty firefighters stabilize the victims until they were transported to hospitals after about 30 minutes.
"Senator Frist greatly assisted Broward County Fire Rescue. The Senate majority leader was really instrumental in helping us treat the victims," Chief Leduc said. "We'd like to get in contact with him and recognize him for his efforts."
"As a doctor, my first instincts are to help, and I was privileged to offer my assistance today at the scene of this horrible accident," Mr. Frist said in a statement last night. "My heart goes out to this family which must face the start of the new year with this terrible tragedy."
The four surviving victims were transported to Broward General Hospital in Fort Lauderdale and Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Chief Leduc said. A 12-year-old was in critical condition. Authorities didn't release their identities.
The accident, about 35 miles northwest of Miami, jammed traffic on the busy highway well into the evening, creating a 12-mile backup at one time, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Mr. Frist is a fourth-generation Tennessean whose father, founder of the HCA hospital chain, practiced medicine in the state for 55 years. Though Mr. Frist has given up his private practice since being elected to the Senate in 1994, he continues to work as a medical missionary in Africa during congressional vacations.
In the Senate, Mr. Frist has used his skills several times to help those in medical emergencies.
On July 25, 1998, when a gunman opened fire in the Capitol, killing two police officers and wounding other people, Mr. Frist rushed to aid the victims. He treated one man who had been shot and helped load him into an ambulance, and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on another man with a chest wound and rode with him to the hospital.
In 1995, months after taking office, Mr. Frist revived a 60-year-old man who collapsed inside the Dirksen Senate Office Building. When Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, collapsed on the Senate floor on Oct. 2, 2001, Mr. Frist ran from a nearby meeting to aid Mr. Thurmond.
After Senate offices were infected by anthrax in 2001, Mr. Frist offered information and assurance to those seeking treatment for potential infection. The next year, he authored a book, "Every Moment Counts," about dealing with the threat of bioterrorism.
Mr. Frist graduated from Princeton University in 1974 and from Harvard Medical School in 1978.


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