Hospital Looks Back at Sugar Refinery Explosion

Memorial prepares for the injured the night of February 7.
Memorial prepares for the injured the night of February 7.

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Just over a week ago, more than 40 injured Imperial Sugar refinery workers were transported to hospitals in Savannah.

The majority and those most badly hurt or burned were taken to the level-one trauma center at Memorial University Medical Center. Throughout the night and into the next day, they worked to treat the injured.

Now the Memorial staff is looking back at that night and how they were able to handle one of the largest disasters to hit our area.

How could anybody forget the images of that Thursday night? Ambulances lined up, and injured refinery workers coming through the emergency room doors at Memorial.

Dr. Jay Goldstein says, on a scale one to ten, he would rate it a ten, being the worst he has ever seen.

"It will live with me and live with a lot of us for a while," he told us. "It was a devastating situation. When I got the phone call, we thought it would be 200, then 120, and thank God it was 32. However it, was significant burns, it was controlled chaos."

Dr. Goldstein says the staff at Memorial plans for disasters like that one all the time.

"We practice this, and you always feel like you're ready, but then again, until you're there in that situation...," he said. "I think we did an incredible job."

CEO and president of Memorial Bob Colvin says, after looking back at that night, "I am very proud of our team. This is one of those things that level-one trauma centers--you hope you won't have to do, but you practice it--and our team response was positive, energetic, and very compassionate."

Colvin says this was really a community effort.

"EMS systems from around the region, the fact that we had such great response from helicopter crews from Augusta, Jacksonville, the burn team in Augusta has been superb," said Colvin. "It has been some of the most dynamic healthcare initiatives altogether around an emergency that I have seen in my 30 years of doing this," said Colvin.

Of those injured, 16 remain at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, 15 in critical condition. A total of nine people have died as a result of the blast.

This Saturday, February 23, there's a chance to honor the victims and families of the deadly explosion. There will be a memorial service at 1pm at the Savannah Civic Center. Everyone is welcome.

Reported by: Brooke Kelley,