Waco hospitals, citizens rush to aid neighbors in nearby West


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE


Posted on April 19, 2013 at 1:52 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 19 at 2:01 AM

AUSTIN -- While emergency crews continue to work through the devastation in the small Central Texas town of West, health care workers, volunteers and ordinary citizens in the nearby city of Waco are busy providing aid and shelter.

As of Thursday evening, five victims remain in intensive care at Waco's Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, the large Level 2 Trauma Center that received the brunt of the victims from the explosion Wednesday night. Of the roughly 100 treated at Hillcrest, all but 19 have been released.

"All the patients are in rooms, we're going over them from head to toe, closely looking for missed injuries," trauma surgeon Danny Owens told reporters at a media conference Thursday afternoon.

For some, the injured included friends and family.

"I have a stepbrother and a nephew that were injured and a grandfather that was in the nursing facility," said social worker Melissa James, who credited her coworkers with helping her work through the night as scores of victims poured into the hospital.

Meanwhile, ordinary folks in Waco are rallying to support. Many waited for hours in the cold to give blood for their suffering neighbors.

"We were able to meet the needs of the hospitals last night because of our faithful donors and we were able to replenish that. And this should help us get back on track," said Carter BloodCare worker Dawn Radke.

Her husband and son, both volunteer firefighters, raced to the explosion last night.

"Everyone was calling to check on them and I had no updates," said Radke. "Occasionally they would find a few minutes just to call in and let us know they were okay every couple of hours. So that helped ease our minds some."

"They just said it was bad and to pray," said Radke.

From signs on storefronts to a benefit concert at Baylor's Ferrell Center, folks seemed to be pitching in everywhere.

"I'm just hoping that they all know that everybody's here for them, that we're doing stuff," said Waco resident Steven Traylor, who woke up at 9 a.m. to give blood. "My wife's gathering donations right now."

Those who know the relationship between the two communities say that's no surprise.

"So many people are out there trying to help in so many ways and we want to say thank you on behalf the greater Central Texas community," said Hillcrest CEO Glenn Robinson.

For more information on injuries, go to www.sw.org.