Public safety agencies' explosion response considered success on many levels

Agencies will officially review response

INDIANAPOLIS - Official reviews haven't happened yet, but public safety officials are calling the response to the Nov. 10 explosion on the city's south side a success on many levels.

Within seconds of the explosion and resulting shock wave, all on-duty police officers not responding to citizens' calls for service responded to Richmond Hill. The far southeast of Indianapolis has by far the highest concentration of police officers who reside in the area.

"There were at least 25 off-duty personnel, some were in their homes and heard the explosion and jumped in their car and hurried to the scene, not knowing what they were dealing with," said Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

Marion County sheriff's deputies also responded in large numbers and assisted Metro police with the large-scale evacuation of impacted homeowners.

A nearby elementary school immediately opened its doors to serve as a temporary shelter for the refugees who escaped into the night with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

A church also opened up, serving hot meals and collecting donations.

The Red Cross responded to the scene within hours.

The Indianapolis Fire Department dispatched 22 pieces of equipment to Richmond Hill. The initial arriving units immediately called in a second alarm.

For lFD, the response underscored that the system, even on a large scale, works.

"We have done a good job over the years of building incident management teams," said Indianapolis Fire Chief Brian Sanford. "We've done a good job of educating our people that it's OK to call for additional equipment, initially early. The earlier, the better."

All first-responding agencies, both individually and collectively, will put together debriefing teams for a critical review of the incident.

For now, the best critique of their efforts comes from victims themselves, who praised public safety responders for putting the lives in Richmond Hill ahead of their own.

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