• Alum’s book captures first responders’ stories from West

    The Last Alarm: First Responders’ Stories of the West ExplosionA year ago today, the Baylor community sprang into action following the tragic explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, just 20 miles up I-35 from Waco.

    Students organized a midnight prayer rally on campus just a few hours after the blast. The next day was scheduled to be Diadeloso, but was quickly turned into DiaDelWest as the Baylor family collected aid, gave blood, and donated to a relief fund organized by the university that eventually contributed more than $290,000 to West residents in the months following the accident. The campus also was the site of a memorial service for the 12 first responders who died battling the fire.

    Of course, not all the first responders died in the accident; many more live on with the memories, both good and bad, of what they saw that night and in the days that followed. Amber Adamson, BA ’04, MA ’13, a lecturer in the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences’ journalism department, has captured first-person accounts from more than 40 of those who served in a new book, The Last Alarm: First Responders’ Stories of the West Explosion.

    “As the wife of a firefighter and the sister to a firefighter, it’s given me a chance to see what the brotherhood is all about,” says Adamson. “Everyone I talked to was so humble, so gracious, so not impressed with themselves. They don’t think that anything they do is extraordinary, but everything they all did was extraordinary.”

    Adamson isn’t The Last Alarm’s only Baylor connection. The book was designed by Stephanie MacVeigh, BA ’99, using many photos from Baylor Lariat student photographers, and another Baylor journalism lecturer, Sharon Bracken, BA ’92, MA ’01, edited and published the book. Baylor’s Institute for Oral History transcribed and collected many of Adamson’s interviews, which will be added to the university’s Texas Collection.

    Sic ’em, Amber, for preserving these stories!

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