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West, TX, c KHOU

There are few moments in life I can remember as clearly as the first time I sat in the front right seat of an ambulance. I’d been aware of the risks of being a 911-dispatched EMT, but there’s something about being the Officer In Charge for the first time that makes you realize just how vulnerable you really are. You can be sent into anything at any time, and it’s up to you to keep your crew safe. That’s what really drove the disaster in West, Texas home for me, the idea that it could just as easily have been me arriving in the first unit on scene. Now someone is organizing a 2-gun match near Marble Falls, Texas with all proceeds going to benefit the West, Texas EMS . . .

From the match website:

The West, Texas Benefit Match is being held in order to raise much needed funds to help the West, Texas EMS system rebuild.

In the aftermath of the tragic explosion that occurred in West on April 17th, 2013 the town has been left with a severely crippled EMS system. Relying heavily on mutual aid from adjacent agencies since the event, the citizens of West need their EMS system restored to full capacity to begin the difficult task of rebuilding.

There are a hundreds of news articles out there with the details of the explosion, the many lives lost, people injured and the horrific damage caused. However while the town, state and nation mourn the loses, look for answers to very difficult questions and try to figure out how to proceed and rebuild, the first responders (Police, Fire and EMS) still have the same job and responsibility they had before the explosion. They are still tasked with providing the emergency services needed by the community, but they are now doing it with drastically reduced capacity. These people are still responding to car accidents, medical emergencies, fires and saving cats from trees; they’re just doing it with less people, less equipment and even without an EMS station!

I have been in contact with the West, Texas EMS president and some of their medics. They appear to be in a situation that we could directly assist with support. They need to make extensive repairs to their building before it is operational again, replace their communications system and replace their ambulances. These are all steps that can be taken one at a time, each achievable step will restore a significant amount of capability to the EMS system in West and bring the community one step closer to restored service.

I have been told that West is in fact a Central Texas town that has many firearms enthusiast! Some of which will be attending the benefit match, off duty West EMS personnel will be at the event to provide medical standby if they are available.

We are doing everything possible to not only raise money for West EMS services but also let the community know that we support them. We will be bringing the famous Kolache’s from West Bakery down for lunch, and some of the Heart of Texas Cowgirls from West will also be assisting at the event.

The benefit match will help raise some of these much needed funds, it may only be a drop in the bucket compared to what they need, but I plan to do everything I can to make the biggest splash possible!

I ask anyone in the area to come out and show their support, if you can’t spend a whole day to shoot the match, come out for an afternoon and shoot some machine guns, grab some Kolache’s, meet some of the amazing people from West and show them that we care.

The match is being held at the Copperhead Creek Shooting Club on June 8th and 9th, although the match takes only one day to shoot (you can shoot it either day). Registration is $65 and I’ve already mailed off my application to shoot on Saturday. The match is a handgun and rifle only match, shotguns need not apply!

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  1. Not to be contrarian, but where was the EMS communication facility in relation to the blast zone? Their base, equipment, etc?

    I understand losing an ambulance can run hundreds of thousands.

    I’d love to participate but only if the money is going where it’s needed. We all know that civil servants are not above using a tragedy to help their own causes. (Saying this as a brother to two LEOs and a former volunteer EMT; so no crying liberal bias.)

    And, if I can use a .22 as that’s the only rifle I have.

      • They didn’t say that. They said replace comms, equipment, repair facility, etc.

        Again, not trying to argue. Just want to make sure the money goes to what is needed and asked for.

        • EMS Station was just behind the Nursing Home that was so well publicized. So it was a complete loss. The fire Dept has a separate station, but not large enough to house both EMS and Fire. They Lost 2 ambulances and most importantly several co-workers. I will dare say that this benefit is definitely going to a real need.

  2. I live in Waco and have friends affected by the explosion.

    The banks in west are taking donations as well for a “general relief fund”.

    State National Bank and Pointwest Bank in west both have funds.

    If I could attend I would. Thank you for posting this TTAG. I’m a new reader and this cements my stay here.


  3. I live in Waco and have friends affected by the explosion. The banks in west are taking donations as well for a “general relief fund”.

    State National Bank and Pointwest Bank in west both have funds.

    If I could attend I would. Thank you for posting this TTAG. I’m a new reader and this cements my stay here.


  4. Hey everyone, my name is Jeremy Stillman, I’m the facilitator of this match, and I actually wrote the above quote and organized this event.
    First of all, thank you Nick for taking your time to repost and add to this, the more people it reaches the better!

    As to the question of where the money is going, the answer is I’m not 100% sure WHAT it will be used for, but I’m 100% sure 100% of it will go directly to aid the West, EMS department. From what I can tell, and what I have been finding out, with any large scale disaster like this, large government agencies get involved, for the better. However with these large agencies comes policies, hurdles and checks and balances. All of these things can and do delay things. So my line of thinking was one of two options, on June 9th when we have all of the funds tallied up and sitting in a bank account (It looks like there will be about $10,000) I will ask a simple question of the West, EMS department. Do you want a $10,000 check, and if so who do I write it to in order for it to get directly into your hands… Or do you want to order $10,000 worth of needed supplies and equipment and hand me the bill and I’ll pay it directly. (Sometimes as a government regulated entity, it is easier to accept and immediately deploy a tool then it is to accept a donation, get approval to buy a tool, then deploy that tool.)
    So basically, how the money is used to rebuild is up to them, but all of it will go directly to them, not be funneled through other channels. This match is NOT a non-profit charitable donation because we didn’t take the time, or spend the money to make an entirely new corporate entity, and wait for it to be approved. Instead we said “we’re doing this, we’ll figure out the details later”.

    As to the proximity of the EMS station to the actual explosion site, I honestly don’t know the geographical locations, however I do know that their radio tower was destroyed, the building was so badly damaged that they are (were at the time, unknown if a decision has been made yet) trying to figure out if the building can be repaired of it must be torn down and rebuilt before it can be used again.

    Thank you all for your interest, I know people wouldn’t bother asking the questions, and trying to figure out the facts, unless they mattered to them. Thank you.

  5. I believe it was down the street just past the rest home and clinic. About 5 blocks from plant. I can find out today if y’all want. I grew up in west and my mom still knows the city well.

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