The Norman Transcript

News Features

November 13, 2013

Windy week



“I did not know yet, they had taken those actions,” he said. “The television was saying Warren Theatre was going to take a direct hit, but there was nothing about the hospital.”

During the meeting, the executives went into incident command. Chief Nurse Nancy Brown, Head Pharmacist Darin Smith and Splitt jumped into his car and drove toward Moore behind the path of the storm.

“We could see that black wall move across the horizon,” he said. “We knew it was moving right toward our facility.”

At one point, the sky cleared and Splitt said they could clearly see a funnel cloud drop down. They watched it track then saw it disappear over Lake Draper.

“We got across I-35 as we’re watching this, and a silence falls over the car,” he said.

Splitt said they knew the effects “had to be terrible” but they were “helpless in the car.”

The team reached 24th Street and encountered heavy traffic. Splitt got in behind an ambulance and followed its trail moving in the wrong direction against traffic. After he lost that ambulance, another passed and he jumped behind it.

“About 10 to 15 minutes after the tornado hit Moore Medical Center, we arrived,” he said.

The scene was destruction and debris. Brown would later tell the health system board her first thoughts upon seeing the devastation were that there would be fatalities. Splitt said Brown didn’t take two steps out of the car before she was identified as a nurse and asked to help the injured.

Splitt’s first concern was the patients and staff inside the remains of Moore Medical. At the sight of a familiar face, he made contact and was amazed to learn there were no fatalities or serious injuries among the few hundred patients, staff and members of the public who had sheltered inside the now devastated hospital.

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