BR burn unit treating some injured from lake rig blast
KENNER – Amid a search mission for a missing employee from an exploded rig in Lake Pontchartrain, investigators are piecing together what happened late Sunday and doctors an hour away are caring some injured in the blast.
The eruption happened around 8 o'clock Sunday evening in the lake within eyesight of the Kenner shoreline. People in the New Orleans suburb reported hearing the explosion and seeing a bright, intense flame from land.
Eight people were on the rig – a collection point for oil and gas from several wells in the lake – when it blew. Seven were rescued and rushed to hospitals. Two were transferred to the specialized burn unit at Baton Rouge General for care.
The eighth worker was missing immediately after the explosion. As of Monday afternoon, a search for that individual continued.
Of the group, three were employees of Clovelly Oil; the other five, including the missing worker, were contractors.
A natural gas well was feeding a tank on the platform at the time of the explosion, which occurred during maintenance. The company said wells were shut after the incident and the Coast Guard reported no sign of pollution.
The fire burned from Sunday until Monday afternoon.
Those injured were identified as Lawrence Dufrene; Dufrene was last recovering at Baton Rouge General's burn unit. Others hospitalized elsewhere were Alvin Kembrel and James Bordelon. Devin Billiot, Brent Neil, Paul Pfister and Cody Boudreaux were treated and released.
Authorities said the missing worker is from the Houston area.
“Each burn survivor's course will be different, when you're dealing with explosions you're not just dealing with burn injuries, you're dealing with things like ortho-trauma and injuries not burn related.” Dr. Tracee Short, who is treating the patients, said in an interview with WBRZ Monday.
The recovery will be extensive.
“We typically say for burn wounds, one day in the hospital per percent of burn,” Short said, “So if a patient is a sixty-percent burn, they can expect to be in hospital for sixty days.”
“The big thing is the de-contamination process, the cleaning and removing of any oil before you can treat and assess the burn wounds,” said Short.
The unit at Baton Rouge General Hospital is the only regional unit verified by the American Burn Association. The hospital treats more than 150 zip codes and has saved thousands of lives.
Dr. Short said the recovery process will continue even once the patients leave the burn unit.
“Your recovery process doesn't stop just because you leave the hospital, we get you to the point where you can return home, you may require [help getting around from] canes, or walkers; but your recovery process will continue.” Dr. Short said.