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At Least 40 Killed In Deadliest Russian Strike In Months; Zelenskyy: Battle For Soledar Raging "Without Any Respite"; American Detained In Iran Launches Hunger Strike, Asks Biden For Help; U.K. P.M. Sunak: Alireza Akbari's Execution A "Callous And Cowardly Act"; Relentless String Of Storms Leaves At Least 19 Dead In California; Another System Brings More Rain, Snow To Storm-Battered California; Rare Look Inside Meetings To Prepare NFL Medical Teams For Emergencies. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 16, 2023 - 10:30   ET



COL. MARK CANCIAN (RET.), SENIOR ADVISER, CSIS INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM: Remember that the Russians have conducted a campaign against the electrical system in Ukraine, trying to put the Ukrainian people under pressure maybe to have them sue for peace. It's likely that the Russians were aiming at that, but with a tool that's that inaccurate. They're going to land all over the place, including on civilian apartment buildings.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No, they've shown little to no concern for civilian welfare. And in fact, in some cases, when you're targeting the energy infrastructure, you are targeting civilians, by definition there. Vladimir Putin is claiming that the war the last few days has taken what he calls a positive dynamic. Do the Russians have a reason to feel as if that they're getting some kind of momentum?

CANCIAN: Well, they aren't getting any momentum on the battlefield. What I think they are doing is settling in for a long war. Putin, of course, at the beginning called as a special military operation, implying it was going to be very short. They've come to realize it's going to be long, and he's taken some steps to enable Russia to fight for a long term.

Last couple of weeks, he's been berating his defense industry to produce more munitions for a long war. Of course, they had this partial mobilization, that was very chaotic, but it's produced a lot of soldiers. Some thoughts that they may continue that partial mobilization. So I think Putin is probably feeling better because he's now positioning himself for a long war and perhaps an offensive in the Donbas in the next couple of months.

BERMAN: Colonel, you talked about the potential but also the limitations of the Patriot missile and other air defense. There are now reports that Ukraine could be getting increased shipments of weaponry, somewhat advanced weaponry from NATO and the West, including tanks, for instance, which they've been asking for now for nearly a year. Weapons, in and of themselves, how much of a difference will they make to the Ukrainians?

CANCIAN: Well, the big news, of course, the last two weeks has been the number of armored vehicles that the West has committed, the United States is sending Bradleys which are, in effect, like tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and other countries like the polls have talked about Leopard tanks, they would be helpful.

You have to keep in mind, though, that there's a problem here with scale. The polls have talked about sending maybe 15 tanks. Remember that the Ukrainians have 800 tanks where they started the war with 800. So what the United States and NATO are sending, I think, are very symbolic. They are powerful weapons.

But at least initially, they aren't going to arrive in the kind of numbers that would be needed to really turn the war around, maybe after six months or more. You know, as more of these systems arrive, as more Ukrainians get trained on them, they can make a real difference, I think early on, the significance is mostly symbolic.

BERMAN: Important perspective. Colonel Mark Cancian, thanks so much for being with us.

CANCIAN: Thanks for having me on the show.

BERMAN: So an American detained in Iran for years is on a hunger strike and calling for President Biden to help him and other detainees. Siamak Namazi is marking seven years in captivity. CNN National Security Correspondent Kylie Atwood joins us now with the latest on this. Kylie, what have you learned?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Siamak Namazi is trying to do here what a lot of other Americans who have been wrongfully detained abroad have tried to do -- get the attention of the person that they think matters most. That's President Biden, because they think that he is key to securing their release.


ATWOOD (voice-over): Siamak Namazi, an American wrongfully detained in Iran for more than seven years, is embarking on a hunger strike today and calling on President Biden to do everything in his power to bring him home.

BABAK NAMAZI, SIAMAK NAMAZI'S BROTHER: Siamak feels desperate and reaching out publicly to the U.S. President underscores that desperation.

ATWOOD (voice-over): Babak Namazi says the goal of his brother's letter to the President is to remind him of what happened seven years ago, when Biden was vice president. Five Americans wrongfully detained in Iran returned home and Siamak was left behind.

NAMAZI: It's just a horrific week, is to think that seven years, you know, seven whole years have gone by which could have been avoided.

ATWOOD (voice-over): In his letter, Siamak pleads for Biden's attention, saying all he wants is, quote, "Just a single minute of your time for each year of my life I lost in Evin prison after the U.S. government could have saved me but didn't. That is all."

Siamak remains in the notorious Evin prison. There are also two other Americans wrongfully detained by the Iranian regime right now. The hardest question for him to answer is how are you doing? He writes to Biden, quote, "How do I explain the devastation my family and I are left with after so many halfhearted prisoner deals crumbled last minute, turning freedom into Chimera? How do I convey the excruciating terror that comes with not knowing when or how this nightmare will end or even what comes next?"


NAMAZI: President Biden, Siamak is begging you, my family is imploring you, please, please take what it takes to make those courageous decisions that we know you're capable of.


ATWOOD: Now, a spokesperson from the National Security Council told us that it is outrageous that Iran continues to detain Americans for political leverage said that the Biden administration is working tirelessly to bring home Siamak as well as two other Americans who are wrongfully detained in Iran.

But we should note that U.S.-Iran relations are frankly in a very troubled moment right now. There are traditionally no diplomatic relations between the two countries. But the Biden administration has been highly critical of the Iranian regime's violent crackdown on protesters in the country. And any efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal are on the back burner for now. John?

BERMAN: And again, we're talking about years in captivity. Kylie Atwood, thank you so much for this.

Along the lines of what Kylie was talking about there, the United Kingdom has temporarily recalled its ambassador to Iran for consultation as Western nations continue to condemn Tehran for executing British-Iranian National Alireza Akbari. The tit for tat move comes after U.K. diplomat Simon Shercliff was summoned by the Iranian regime on Saturday over Downing Street, quote, unconventional interventions in Iran's internal affairs.

In a tweet, the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called Akbari's execution a callous and cowardly act carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people.

Californians are dealing with a new round of rain this morning and bracing for still more flooding. We will tell you when the storm battered state will finally get a break.


[10:41:35] BERMAN: Today, a new round of rain and flooding for the already water law in California, this after President Biden signed a disaster declaration for the state. Now dry weather is forecast for later in the week. Not soon enough.

Around 8 million people are under flood watches along the coast through this afternoon. Rushing waters and down trees are blamed for at least 19 storm related deaths. Conditions create high susceptibility for mudslides.

CNN's Natasha Chen is in Novato for us this morning. Natasha, what are the concerns where you are?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, definitely the mudslides can still happen because there has been so much saturation in the ground, in the rivers over the last couple of weeks. And the result of that is also a lot of closed roads like you're seeing right behind me, the traffic is piling up here. Because this section of State Route 37 has remained close for a day or so now since Saturday afternoon, because water from the Novato Creek has been spilling over onto the highway.

And they are concerned that even though they pumped the water off of the road yesterday that new rains could definitely bring that water back. We want to show you some images now from Southern California where in San Joaquin County, the -- there were about 175 people who voluntarily evacuated from a mobile home park there.

There you can see some images including a member of the sheriff's office with a backpack with a cat in it there. Everybody trying to get their pets out. Some of the places that we've seen flooding have experienced flooding off and on for the last couple of weeks. So this is not their first time having to contend with this since New Year's Day.

And then of course, some dangerous situations with Laguna Hills. Officials having to rescue someone who was in a tree, stranded there by a fast-moving creek. They had to bring her up and lift her out to safety. The Orange County Fire Authority also sharing an image of rescuing a man yesterday who was stranded in the water.

So again, because -- just because there hasn't been as much rain this past weekend, as there was, for example, over New Year's weekend, that doesn't mean there's not a threat. It didn't take much rainfall for more flooding and more mudslides and landslides to happen, just because there's nowhere left for the water to go. So definitely very exasperated Californians really looking forward to a drier part of the week later on in a few days. John?

BERMAN: Yes, might stop raining for a bit but this threat will remain for some time. Natasha Chen, thank you so much for your reporting.

In the wake of Damar Hamlin's terrifying on field emergency, we go behind the scenes to see how the NFL's medical teams prepare for possible incidents before every single game.



BERMAN: As we have seen in the NFL, keeping players safe is a job that requires both preparation and speed. First on CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta got an up-close look at every step that medical teams take before every NFL game even kicks off.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest, the game stopped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now another Bills player is down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It may be Hamlin.

GUPTA (voice-over): But for the emergency response team, everything was just getting started.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and go over to the cot. I don't like how he went down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to need everybody. All call. All call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring everybody! We need the air-way doc, everybody. Bring the cot with the medics. All of you. And get wheels out here.

GUPTA (voice-over): As rare as this all is, I'm going to explain now the remarkable chain of events that came together to save Damar Hamlin's life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is actually the EAP for --

GUPTA (voice-over): It starts with this.

(on camera): So, what is the EAP? What does that stand for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It stands for Emergency Action Plan.

GUPTA (on-camera): And that takes place for every game?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So basically any time or any place that players are going to be active, there has to be an emergency action plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have been administering CPR.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The EAP was followed to a letter that night. In that moment, everyone knew what they needed to do, how they needed to do it and had the equipment to do it and felt comfortable.

GUPTA (voice over): Dr. Allen Sills is Chief Medical Officer of the NFL. He's giving me a sideline view of the preparedness that goes into every game day. And once you see this, you will probably never watch a game the same way again.

You may have missed this, pop-up blue tent. It's on every sideline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a medical exam room. Now we've kind of made this a medical space. Even in the middle of a very busy stadium. It's just so much easier to do things in here because, like I said, everybody's just more relaxed. You don't have the cameras. You don't have the fans.

GUPTA (voice-over): Or this, the injury review screen.

DR. ALLEN SILLS, NFL CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: So we can be down here on the sideline and the spotter's booth, if they've seen an injury video, they'll cue it up for us, put on the video exactly what we need to see. We can ask them to run it back.

GUPTA (on camera): We can talk and we can talk (INAUDIBLE).

(voice over): The spotter's booth, they are the eyes in the sky.

(on camera): Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome, welcome.

GUPTA (on-camera): Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, this is another part of our game day medical preparations. And the real goal of this booth is to help spot any injuries or illnesses on the field. It can be hard to see the whole field from down here.

GUPTA (on-camera): Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably to me one of the most unique things in sports is the spotter can directly communicate down to the referee. These people can stop the game.

SUE STANLEY-GREEN, CERTIFIED ATHLETIC TRAINER : So, we watch every - every play probably minimally four times, and then we'll go back and watch it again.

GUPTA (on-camera): Got it.

STANLEY-GREEN: And so, you know, we just want to make sure we don't miss anything.

SILLS: It's always about the right people, the right plan and the right equipment. We have almost 30 medical professionals. And everyone has a job to do.

GUPTA (voice over): ER doctors, orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, paramedics, x-ray techs and airway specialists, like Dr. Justin Deaton. DR. JUSTIN DEATON, NFL AIRWAY MANAGEMENT PHYSICIAN: So this is the bag that I carry. And it's got a number of things in here that we could use. The first thing is a portable video larynx (ph) scope. We have a portable ultrasound machine that we can use. And we also have the ability to perform surgical airways. I really have all the resources available here that I would have in an emergency room.

GUPTA (on camera): What's the biggest challenge of that scenario versus being in an emergency room?

DEATON: Well, the biggest challenge is the external environment and the chaos of the situation. When you have a larger-than-average size person that's laying flat on the ground and not able to be elevated to a certain level with extra equipment plus, you know, cameras and other people around, those are really the confounders and the things that make it more difficult to manage.

GUPTA (on-camera): How does everyone know you're the guy in charge?

DEATON: I wear a red hat on the sideline. And that signifies me as the emergency physician, the airway physician, so that even the other team knows when I come out what my role is.

GUPTA (voice over): Every game comes with new lessons. For example, on September 25th, when Miami Dolphin Tua Tagovailoa stumbled after a hit, he was allowed back in the game. That won't happen again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we changed the protocol earlier this year when you and I spoke to say, if we see something that looks like ataxia on video, they're also done.

GUPTA (voice-over): And as the teams all warm up, there is one final, crucial step.

(on-camera): Every time I'm in the operating room we do something known as a time-out. Everyone stops what they're doing and makes sure that everyone's on the same page. This is the same sort of thing that's happening here behind me. It's called a 60-minute meeting. It happens 60 minutes before every game. A chance for all the medical professionals to make sure that they know who each other are, and make sure that they know who's going to do what if there's some sort of crisis out on the field.

DR. KEVIN KAPLAN, HEAD PHYSICIAN ORTHOPEDICS FOR THE JAGUARS: All right, so let's start with introductions so that everybody's familiar with the medical staff that's here at the game. I'm Kevin Kaplan, head team physician orthopedics for the Jaguars.

DEATON: Justin Deaton, Airway Management Physician.

KAPLAN: So, the most important thing, Justin is going to be on our 30- yard line. He stands just to our right. If a player goes down, obviously, he won't know if it's orthopedic or internal medicine. He'll step out onto the field. Our all-call sign is an x. So if you need him to come out, he will come out with an x. All of the important equipment, airway, defibrillator, all the medications are all behind him with our paramedics on our sideline. If a player needs to get taken off of the field, the ambulance is going to be in the tunnel to your right. If you need anything at all, we'll be out there for you guys if you need us. Otherwise, hopefully we have a safe and healthy game. Good luck.

GUPTA (on camera): Now, keep in mind, the medical team was able to get to Damar Hamlin within 10 seconds. And speed really matters here. Every additional minute that someone in cardiac arrest goes without CPR, mortality goes up by up to 10 percent.

SILLS: This is a process that's in place for every single game. And we train in the off-season. And just like the players train and practice, we do as well. So, I have tremendous confidence.


But you always want to see a game with no injuries and you want everyone to, frankly, be bored on the medical standpoint, that's a good game from my standpoint.

GUPTA (on-camera): I hear you.


GUPTA: Got to tell you, John, I had never really seen anything like this. You watch football, but all those preparations that are going on on the sidelines, all the drills, they do those meetings, part of it is because, look, the game has changed. I mean, if you go back to when the NFL started, average lineman was about 190 pounds.

Now the average lineman is 300 pounds, they can run a 40-yard dash in five seconds. If you get hit by somebody in that scenario, it's like 1,700 pounds of force hitting somebody like a ton of bricks. So that's why the medical capabilities have to keep changing.

BERMAN: Yes, I'm not good at math, but I can tell you from watching, it looks like it hurts when you get hit by someone that big.

GUPTA: Right.

BERMAN: Sanjay, thank you so much for that report. It was really great seeing the inside look there and I have to say you look like a natural on the football field. Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You got it, John. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, thank you all for joining us today. I'm John Berman. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts after a quick break.