Someone can have the ability to make command decisions that steer an organization whether it be large or small but that person is not a leader until they find someone who is willing to follow them.  In the last year and a half, I have written about a few of the incidents that I have been part of, mainly the tornado that hit Springfield on June 1 and the ice storm that we had last year around Halloween.  Just the other day though, I added another one to my list.

In the downtown area of my city, we had what started out as a simple gas leak.  That all changed when four miles away, sitting in our office, I heard a loud bang.  The building with the leak exploded with two of my crews only a short distance away.  Thankfully, they were okay, but we were called to action to organize and take care of close to twenty people who were injured.  Everyone involved is still counting our blessings that no one was killed.

An aerial view of the Command and Treatment areas

In moments, the people that I had in the streets started to mobilize.  Crews cleared the hospital.  People in their homes, not 100% sure what had just occurred started to put their uniforms on and head to work.  I took the new supervisor I was training to take my spot and started a ride that felt like it took an eternity down to the scene.  It took about twenty minutes to get organized, get a staging area setup, and to really start getting a grasp on what we were dealing with but once we did, we were ready for whatever would be thrown at us.  The response from the EMS community was amazing.  At peek, we had more than twenty ambulances in our staging area ready to do whatever it took to make sure every patient got out of there.  The unsung heroes though were the fifteen people who showed up at the office who were not even scheduled to be in that day ready to jump on ambulances and go wherever they were needed.  With all of the trucks that we had assigned to the explosion, we were able to back fill into the city with trucks that had come in just to help out and cover all of the “regular” emergencies we deal with on any given Friday night.

When it was all said and done, and I was able to sit back and armchair quarterback the whole thing, I found some decisions I would have made differently but in the heat of the moment, I think everything went about as well as it could have.  The reason for this was not because I was making decisions or giving orders but more because I had an awesome command staff that was offering their input and I had a great team of responders from a variety of services who were all willing to do whatever my staff and I asked them to do.

Briefing my Command Staff before holding a general briefing for all of the responders.

As my career wraps up here in Springfield Massachusetts, I have had a number of ups and downs.  It was nice to go out having had one last chance to work with so many terrific people.   If any of you who were there with me happen to read this, know that you have my heartfelt thanks.  Thank you for believing in me, trusting me, and being part of my team.

RAW VIDEO: Downtown Springfield gas explosion