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MGH

Published On November 21, 2017

CLINICAL CARE

Podcast: Fire At the Cocoanut Grove

Disaster struck at a packed Boston nightclub 75 years ago. What happened next became a milestone in burn care.

It was Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend, 1942. The Cocoanut Grove nightclub was filled to capacity. Soldiers were home from the front lines of World War II, football fans were celebrating a game between Holy Cross and Boston College, and a cowboy-movie star, Buck Jones, was there with his entourage.

When the fire broke out, there was a mad rush for the doors. Meg Schmidt, whose father was in the club that night, recalls the story he told her, “They started to take a step or two but were almost instantly overcome by choking, inhaling these toxic fumes, and fell on top of the others in front of them.”

John Schulz, medical director of the Sumner Redstone Burn Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, explores what happened at the Cocoanut Grove and the days after, how the event marked a milestone in burn care, and what advances in 2017 mean for the future of burn treatment. Listen below, or subscribe to the Proto podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Cocoanut Grove