MOORE, Okla. – Paramedic Machelle Krause and EMT Allison Lance worked together for 15 years. They were on duty Monday, May 20, 2013.
“It was a pretty normal day for us, we went there, cleaned the station, went and ate lunch,” said Krause.
They both said it felt like a storm day.
“Jokingly, Machelle said, ‘This could be our last meal of the day.’ And low and behold, three hours later…” Lance told News 4.
Ahead of the storm, call volume jumped with people experiencing panic attacks and anxiety.
“The nurses were like, ‘You can’t leave, you need to stay here.’ And we were like, ‘No, we’ve got a call, we have to go,'” said Lance. They looked at each other and knew it was going to be bad. But, they had no idea at the time that Moore Medical Center would take a direct hit.
“We headed north on Telephone Road toward Moore Medical and a large piece of hail hit our windshield and shattered it,” said Krause. A Moore firefighter later revealed just how close they were.
“He was like, ‘Did you look out your back window of the ambulance when you guys were going to the hospital?’ I said, ‘No,’ he said, ‘It’s a good thing – it was like, it was chasing you down the street,'” said Lance.
They arrived at Moore Medical Center and the doors were locked. Krause said that she punched the code, the doors opened, they walked into the emergency room and it was completely empty. Everyone had already taken shelter in the middle of the hospital.
“I just remember, we went in back into the fast track area and we got down on our knees and covered our heads,” said Lance.
Krause lived in Moore and worried about her son and husband.
“We were just taking shelter inside Moore Medical when he left me a voicemail and I was able to listen to the voicemail that he was saying he wasn’t able to get our son out of school,” said Krause. Thoughts and fears raced through her mind and she wondered – if he wasn’t able to get him, what does that mean? Was he at school? Was the school hit?
And then – it hit. Everyone braced for impact, as winds over 200 mph slammed the Moore Medical Center.
“You could hear the debris hitting the building and your ears were popping,” said Krause.
“Everybody says you hear a freight train, I never heard that. I felt the pressure pushing me down. Like, the pressure from it pushing me down and my ears popped,” Lance told News 4.
When the tornado finally passed, the two stepped out into a completely different world. Krause and Lance found a window to crawl out of.
“So, we crawl out and our ambulance is still there, but it’s damaged to the point where the awning is pretty much laying on top of it, the axles are broke,” said Krause.
Lance said everything was gone. “It took me about 30 seconds to figure out where I was. I mean, I knew I was at Moore Medical Center, but 7-Eleven was gone, houses were gone, there was nothing there,” she said. She also said they felt helpless without their ambulance. “It kind of makes you feel kind of worthless when your means of transportation…I mean, you can’t take anyone to the hospital and the hospital you’re in is destroyed.”
Krause feared for her family, not knowing if her son was okay.
Emotionally, she said, “you rely on your faith a lot so and, and you just hope that they are okay.”
It would take hours until Krause found out her son was okay.
But, they had to focus on the task at hand.
“We have to put a wall and do our job. That’s what we were trained to do,” Lance said.
The two immediately got to work, helping as many as they could.
“We had people in droves coming from the neighborhood towards us to get help. We were like, we need more ambulances because it’s just us,” said Lance. Krause finally waved down another ambulance to transport a group of storm victims to another hospital.
Lance explained how they ranked injuries, “if they could walk, go across the street to the command post. And the ones that needed an ambulance, as soon as we’d fill an ambulance up, then another one would pull up.”
The two worked through the night.
“Our shift started at 8 o’clock that morning and I believe I got home around 1:00 a.m.,” said Krause.
Thankfully, their own houses were spared, but their emotions were not.
Lance was haunted by that day, “it’s hard when there’s people you ultimately couldn’t help. You can’t be everywhere at once and you know people have died, you can’t get there. You feel helpless.”
Lance is now a teacher in Moore.
“15 years was enough for me of seeing devastation and just various things. I’ve had enough,” she said.
Both still live in Moore and are ready should another tornado strike.
“Ultimately, the community in Moore and around, they come out from everywhere to help. And, if it had to happen, it’s probably the best place for it to happen,” said Lance.