Health district working to better prepare for another explosion - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Health district working to better prepare for another explosion

Posted:
WEST -

The McLennan County Health district is working to figure out how to prepare in case something like West happens again.

The district is conducting a study, interviewing all the West residents who were hurt by the explosion. They looked at hospital records from seven different hospitals to see who checked in. Those records of more than 300 people showed what kind of injuries people suffered.

The district has also been calling residents since the new year to see what they experienced. By asking them where they were, what injuries they suffered and how they were hurt, the district will better prepare for possible future explosions.

"We always talk about what to do in case of a tornado and even there's studies on what to do in case of an earthquake. Let's have some information about what if there's a potential explosion, what should you do?" spokesperson for the health district Kelly Craine said.

The district spent two months figuring out what questions to ask residents. Some of those questions, only people 18 or older are interviewed, are, "Did you know about the fire that started at the fertilizer plant BEFORE the explosion occurred?"

Another question is, "Where were you located at the time of the explosion?"

"Where is the safest place you can be? Is it outside? Is it behind your house? Is it the flying debris that causes most of the damage? This is really what we want to understand," Craine said.

This information can then be used by anyone from several different industries. New building codes could be put in place depending on where people were in relation to the explosion.

First responders could also better understand how to handle an explosion like this. West EMS director George Smith says they handled the night April 17th well, but this study could help them prepare.

"You don't want to do this during a disaster state- who can get me a crane to lift some concrete off somebody to get them out? You need to know who you can call to get that crane right away," Smith said.

Smith says three weeks before the explosion they had a drill at the nursing home which is just a couple hundred yards away from the fertilizer plant. That drill was how to evacuate if the fertilizer plant was on fire.

Smith says knowing what kind of injuries came from the explosion could help first responders know what to use and where to send patients for help.

West mayor Tommy Muska says there could be new building code changes, but he'll have to wait and see what the study finds. The health district says they could be done with the study by the end of February.

 

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