Study To Focus On The Hundreds Injured In West Blast

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MCLENNAN COUNTY (September 25, 2013) -- Over 300 medical records are currently being retrieved from hospitals across Central Texas, after the Texas Department of State Health Services approved a study to be conducted that will detail blast injuries from the West explosion.

Ambulances staged at West High School stadium. (Photo by John Carroll/file)

Both the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District will be leading up the study. More than 300 people were injured during the West explosion.

According to Waco-McLennan County Public Health District spokesperson Kelly Craine, the study will provide insight for health officials on how to prepare for similar accidents in the future.

"We want to be prepared and want people to know what to do in a crisis that might be similar to this,” Craine said.

"We need to learn from this, and that means understanding how to help others just in case something like this happens again.”

The study will be similar to one that was conducted after a car bomb exploded at the foot of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995.

After the explosion, health data was collected from blast survivors and was compiled for first responders, doctors, and hospitals everywhere in the world.

The study ended up being vital for future blast treatments and emergency planning for public safety.

“This information will be available to anyone in on the planet, and they'll have it so they can better themselves for the future,” Craine said.

"If another industrial accident like West happens or maybe a smaller blast occurs, people can have a better type of understanding of what injuries to expect, how those injuries were treated, and what they can do to respond."

West explosion survivor Misty Lambert has no problem sharing her scars for the study.

Lambert was in the apartment complex that sat directly behind the West Fertilizer plant.

She was looking outside of a window at the time of the explosion; shards of glass and metal pierced into her body.

One thousand stitches and nearly six months later, her scars tell a story of survival.

“I don't see myself as being a victim, I see myself as a survivor and my scars are my survivor wounds,” Lambert said.

"I definitely want people to learn from this, and it helps to be more prepared, I mean, this was the last thing anyone expected in West.”

Once all of the medical records are pulled, they will be studied and then blast survivors will be interviewed by both the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.

The results of the study are expected to be released at the end of the year.