The evening of Wednesday, April 17, began much like any other for nurses in north-central Texas, but when a fertilizer plant explosion rocked the city, they quickly prepared to care for the victims of the blast that leveled several blocks.
“Through the trauma system and disaster system in Texas, it becomes a personal mission that every person be rescued and get optimal care,” Jorie Klein, RN, director of the trauma program and disaster management at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, a level 1 regional trauma center about 78 miles from West, said.
Parkland received two patients with significant blast injuries. As of Friday, April 19, one remained in critical condition with the other in serious condition.
The hospital activated a low-level emergency response and prepared its decontamination unit. However, because the patients were approximately a mile from the blast, decontamination was not needed, said Klein, who credits advanced disaster preparation for the hospitals able response.
The Texas Department of Public Safety reported the explosion occurred at approximately 7:50 p.m., on April 17. As of the afternoon of April 19, authorities had recovered 14 bodies, according to Sgt. Jason Reyes, with the Department of Public Safety. Crews continue to search for victims.
The department reported about 200 injured, with 51 patients admitted to area hospitals, five to ICUs. Many were taken to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, a level 2 trauma center about 20 miles from West, Klein said. Hillcrest reported admitting 28 patients, five in intensive care. Two pediatric trauma patients were stabilized at Hillcrest and transferred to Scott & White Healthcares McLane Childrens Hospital in Temple. The hospital also tended to 12 elderly patients, reportedly nursing home residents from West, and discharged them to alternative nursing home facilities. Hillcrest treated and released more than 50 patients from the ED. More than 250 physicians and other staff came to the hospital when they learned of the emergency.
“We are very proud of the work of our physicians, nurses and other staff who responded to this emergency,” Glenn Robinson, Hillcrest CEO, said in a written statement. “They train and prepare for events like this and mobilized very quickly to respond professionally, efficiently and with all of the needed resources.”
Providence Health Center in Waco received 65 patients, according to spokesperson Mandy Sharp. Scott & White hospitals in Temple reported they received five patients injured in the blast. Two of the three patients at Scott & White Hospital-Temple are in critical condition and one is in fair condition.