A number of "toughs," who had either traveled from Knoxville to the wreck or lived in the area, operated alongside the rescuers. The thieves found a box containing hats and caps and helped themselves to valuables. Thefts continued throughout the night in spite of stationed guards; some thieves went as far as entering suitcases and trunks.
When the news of the New Market train wreck reached Knoxville, The Southern Railway notified Drs. S. R. Miller and S. M. Miller (employees of the Southern Railway), who then organized a relief train with medical and surgical supplies to go to the accident scene to triage the injured victims to the Knoxville General Hospital. Because of the primitive roads and automobiles, the railway was the only feasible mode of rescue in this situation, and rapid communication was limited to telegraph messages.
On arrival at the train wreck site, the doctors encountered "chaos," the first phase of a disaster event, characterized by disorganized confusion, panic, fear, and a lack of leadership. During this phase, critically injured casualties are at the greatest risk for death. Security was instituted at the scene to restrict access to only those trained to handle the many dangers of the scene.
— George M. Testerman, MD,
medscape.com, July 7, 2009