COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A security guard who hurried thirty patients, their families and hospital staff out of a clinic just minutes before a major gas explosion and fire is being called a hero.
Next month that man, Security Sergeant Patrick Spencer will receive an international award for his bravery.
NBC4 spoke with him about his experience that day in December.
Sgt. Patrick Spencer said he just reacted instinctively right before a gas explosion in the front parking lot destroyed a Domino’s Pizza business sending pieces of the building and construction debris flying through the air.
On December 21 while sitting at his desk inside the front entrance of the Nationwide Children’s Hilltop Primary Care Center, Spencer said he smelled a faint gas odor.
“I went out and opened the door and that is when the gas was suffocating and there was no fresh air to smell,” he said.
Spencer said both his training as a former Army Engineer and hospital safety training just kicked in.
“I knew that gas would be entering our facility immediately, so it was my call to get them out through the rear of the building and get away as far as I could,” said Spencer.
He said by the grace of God he herded the evacuees to the right spot. “We were in the back of the building, I would say approximately 100 feet away when the building exploded, the thing that saved us was the cinder-block wall, that wall took most of the concussion from the blast,” Spencer said.
In April, Spencer will receive an award for bravery at the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety annual conference.
“I am on my way to Canada for an award because of this act, I am very humbled by that,” Spencer said.
Spencer gives credit to the doctors, nurses and registration staff working at the clinic, who he said were just as instrumental in the evacuation.
Since that day Spencer said he has received a lot of pats on the back, and thank you along with a lot of hugs from people who worked at the clinic. “This has brought us all a little closer together,” he said.
Before the explosion, Columbus-based Team Fishel was using equipment to drill underground and hit a gas line, which they said in a statement, they had “followed all of the Ohio Utility Protection Service requirements” and “had received the necessary clearances to perform the work in which led to us hitting an unidentified gas line.”
UtiliQuest, LLC is the company in charge of marking said gas lines. A statement they released read in part: “UtiliQuest was responsible for locating the natural gas line, and it appears that a human error occurred. UtiliQuest is a contractor for Columbia Gas of Ohio.
Columbia affirmed that “the maps and records provided to UtiliQuest for this project were accurate.