April 17, 2013: A fire and massive explosion at a fertilizer
plant in West, Texas prompted widespread
evacuations. Patients streamed into area hospitals
suffering from blast injuries, orthopedic injuries and
Crisis responders at the scene are concerned about anhydrous
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
anhydrous ammonia is a pungent gas with suffocating fumes that is
used as a fertilizer. When exposed to humans, it can cause
The West blast exemplifies why trauma dollars are crucial.
Physicians and hospitals were able to be ready for blast victims
through coordination with the North Central Texas Trauma Regional
In all, 284 doctors, nurses and other caregivers answered the
call for reinforcements at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center
following the West, Texas explosion.
At Hillcrest, 28 patients remained hospitalized the following
day, five of whom were in intensive care. Victims continued
to trickle in during the day for treatment, including patients at
Waco’s other hospital, Providence Health Center, where 68
patients had been seen.
Doctors had treated mostly skin and soft tissue injuries, lung
contusions, bruising, eye injuries from flying debris and burst
eardrums. No chemical-related injuries had been noted. Other
trauma surgeons were overwhelmed by the professionalism of other
caregivers and staffers during a hectic night and described it as
The types of injuries generally seen in blasts include traumatic
brain injuries, skull fractures, ruptured eyes, internal bruising
to the lung or other internal organs. There is also the potential
for broken arms and legs when people are flung through the air by
The fertilizer plant explosion in West,Texas has forced area
hospitals to ramp up their crisis management plans.
Officials at several of the hospitals lauded the preparedness of
their staff members. Raj Gandhi, MD, medical director of trauma
services at JPS Health Network, said the area’s regional trauma
plan have helped save lives.