West: Car show helps struggling ambulance team in West

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WEST, Texas (KWTX) Five years after the West fertilizer plant explosion, a car show is helping to strengthen the city’s emergency response team.

Photo By: Chelsea Edwards

"West is a pretty wonderful town. Everybody pitches in to help everybody," says Michael Reed.

He's the assistant supervisor of West Volunteer Ambulance Service.

"That's what it's all about- helping your fellow human,” he says.

On Saturday, it was the volunteer ambulance team that people lined up to help.

Proceeds from the area's second Small Town Showdown Car Show will go to the organization that responded to calls for help after the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in 2013.

Reed says four EMTs in training died that night. They rushed from taking their final exam to the scene of the blast.

"They have not fully recovered since the blast, and we are here to help them because any one of us could need an ambulance anytime of the day and night,” says Mayor Pro-Tem and co- chairman of the event Stevie Vanek.

Since the explosion, the volunteer response team has dwindled from 50 to less than twenty members.

"We are kind of struggling as a volunteer organization," says Reed.

"People don't want to volunteer anymore."

In addition to the staffing issues, contributions that once helped keep the organization running are no longer coming in.

"Our call volume has stayed, but the donations have declined, and we've had a little hard time with that," he adds.

However, more than 325 car owners answered that call for help on the streets of downtown West Saturday.

The organization's board will determine how the funds from the entry fees are spent, but Reed says they will likely go to the education and recruitment of the volunteers they need.

"I've been kind of emotional all day," he smiles.

"I'm in awe of all the people that turned out just to help."

With this injection of funds, the team hopes to quickly transition to stable condition.

"You want to make sure the citizens of this town are covered- that's the main thing that keeps us going," says Reed.

"And we'll continue doing it until we're told not to."