"West EMS is a family," said Smith. "We used to meet for coffee and play cards at the station and we can't do that anymore."
Smith was in his house when he heard a call come over his radio that a fire had broken out at the fertilizer plant. Smith said when he saw the smoke his first thought was for the elderly patients living in the nursing home across the street from his home.
"When I pulled out I saw how big the fire was and I said, 'ok, I need to evacuate the nursing home,'" said Smith.
Long before the explosion, Smith said he realized the need for the nursing home to have a shelter-in-place and evacuation plan in case of a fire at the plant.
"Three weeks before this, the nursing home had a fire drill, the scenario for the fire drill was a fire at the fertilizer plant," said Smith.
Smith said he and several others worked for twenty minutes to get all the residents away from the side of the building facing the plant. Smith was still working on moving residents when the explosion happened. The roof collapsed on top of him.
"I feel very blessed to have gotten out alive," said Smith.
Only one patient from the home died the night of the explosion. The facility was destroyed, but will be rebuilt, according to Smith and Muska.
Hand painted, wooden stars with words like "hope," "love" and "overcome this battle" are found posted in many neighborhoods where construction is underway. All gentle reminders that this town is healing.
"God saved us for a reason, now we got to live up to why we were saved," said Kevin Smith.
Federal investigators still have not determined what caused the fire that triggered the explosion at the plant. The investigation is continuing.