A Bryan County ambulance crew was among the first to respond to the Imperial Sugar Refinery in Port Wentworth Thursday evening after an explosion occurred.
More Bryan emergency personnel stood by in case they were needed.
Between 95 to 100 employees were working in the area of the explosion, in a storage silo where refined sugar is stored until packaging, according to the Associated Press and CNN.
After initially reporting six deaths, the cable news network reported later Friday that three workers were killed and 62 were injured. Sugar dust may have caused the blast.
According to a timeline from Director of EMS Services Jim Anderson, here’s how the county responded:
At 7:45 p.m. on Thursday evening, Bryan County was notified about the explosion, with numerous personnel sustaining injuries. Three minutes later, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency requested EMS units to respond and Anderson contacted the county’s dispatch unit to send EMS 5 to the site for transporting patients.
Just a little after 8 p.m., Anderson was in the Emergency Operations Center and contacted Fire Chief Mike Smith about responding if necessary. Smith said the county would be able to provide 16 fire personnel. More EMS units and medics were called to help in the EMS station in Bryan County throughout the evening.
"We basically got the phone call and they got a count on how many people we had available to respond. With our volunteers, about one dozen were put on standby but they never called us back," Smith said. "I’m just glad it wasn’t worse than it actually was. It’s a miracle the damage and injuries weren’t worse."
Anderson could not be reached for more information on Friday.
County Administrator Phil Jones said the county’s new emergency mobile vehicle was also requested to remain on standby, but hadn’t been needed.
The Port Wentworth Elementary School was closed Friday due to the emergency and rescue operations still taking place."Basically, we’re closed because of the proximity of the school to the disaster location and also because it was a natural rallying point for emergency workers and rescue aid and we didn’t feel good about trying to get the children in there this morning," said Savannah Chatham Public Schools Communications Director Bucky Burnsed. "The rescue operation is still ongoing and we expect normal operations at the school on Monday morning. The Westside YMCA in Pooler has provided free childcare today for children who were displaced from Port Wentworth Elementary. We’re here to support the crews, if they need buses or people; we’ll continue to help in whatever ways we can."