Trauma nurse shares experiences treating Geismar patients

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than 24 hours after the Geismar plant explosion, the Our Lady of the Lake Trauma Center sits eerily quiet.  However the scene just hours after a chemical fire caused mass injuries, was vastly different.

"Every team member has their role and responsibility and we practice those roles and responsibilities routinely so call out who you are, where you are, what room you are going to and you go to that room and you wait," said OLOL Trauma Program Manager and trauma nurse Katie Sheets.

A scene of organized chaos played out at area hospitals as they were alerted to the explosion through the state emergency response system.  By noon, the Lake had received 11 patients and Baton Rouge General had received eight, including five who were admitted to the burn center.

"Significant burns, blunt trauma, significant trauma to the abdomen and anything that came in the door," said Sheets describing the range of injuries.

Trauma situations require a huge team effort. From surgeons to nurses to housekeeping, each person has a role to play down to where they stand in relation to the patient.  Patients are assessed and then taken to a trauma room which is kept at 85 degrees to help keep regulate the body temperature of trauma victims.

"First you take care of the patients, make sure you handle their ABCs, your airway breathing, triage, make sure you handle the sickest ones and get them where they need to go and then to be there for them emotionally," said Sheets.

While staff focused on injuries and the lives at stake, emotions and worries of their own were simmering below the surface.

"It was a very scary event, very heart breaking for staff. Some of us had friends, family that were injured and involved in the explosion," said Sheets.

Above the beeps and buzz of medical equipment, and the well rehearsed rush of staff Sheets says the she remembers the compassion of staff members the most.

"Talking to the patients. Telling them, we're here. You're safe. We have you," she said. "Calls to mom to say, we got them, he's here, he's safe."

In total, OLOL treated 12 patients all of which have been discharged or are listed in good to fair condition.

Baton Rouge General treated 19 in total, and those remaining are also listed in good condition.

Ochsner Medical Center treated and discharged13 patients for various symptoms as a result of chemical explosion

St. Elizabeth treated 36 patients, all with minor injuries.

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