UC assistant coach ‘stable’ at burn unit

UC assistant coach ‘stable’ at burn unit
UC assistant coach ‘stable’ at burn unit

Union City defensive coordinator Wes Kennedy is shown on the sideline earlier during this football season. Kennedy is listed in stable condition at a Memphis hospital today after being burned over 75 percent of his body in a weekend accident
Union City High School assistant football coach Wes Kennedy is listed in stable condition at a Memphis hospital today after being burned over 75 percent of his body in a weekend accident.
Kennedy reportedly received chemical burns to his arms, chest, stomach, legs and back while finishing clean-up work he and a handful of other men do monthly at the Kellogg’s Company plant in Memphis Saturday.
Kennedy’s wife, Teka, spoke with The Messenger on both Saturday and Sunday and said her husband’s injuries are considered non-life threatening. He is a patient in the “step-down” Burn Unit at The Med in Memphis.
Most of Kennedy’s burns were first-degree, with about 30 percent categorized by medical personnel as second-degree. However, those grades worsened on Sunday, according to Mrs. Kennedy, with some of the first-degree wounds becoming second-degree, and the second-degree downgraded to third-degree.
The head of The Med Burn Unit was to meet with the Kennedy family this morning, detailing the plans for further treatment.
An associate of the medical staff who made rounds on Sunday said that skin graft surgery was possible — likely as soon as Tuesday. He reportedly also said there were other methods of therapy that could be considered, with the threat of infection being the biggest concern of the treating physicians.
“We’re just so overwhelmed at the support, the calls, the prayers, the well-wishes, the visits — everything — we’ve gotten from the people of Union City,” Mrs. Kennedy said Sunday. “It’s been uplifting at a difficult time and we ask for their continued prayers.”
Specific details of the accident are sketchy because Kennedy is currently heavily medicated to control his pain.
A person close to the situation said the men use a form of alkaline acid to clean vats where cereal is made. Proper protective suits and masks are worn by the men at all times while they are completing their tasks and the incident appears likely to have happened once the job was finished and their protective gear was removed.
Kennedy did manage to say “backwash” when asked what had happened, prompting the belief that the pressure released from one of the hoses had spewed the chemicals on him. The men allegedly never remove their protective gear until after the pressure gauges read zero.
UCHS head coach Darren Bowling, who brought Kennedy with him to the Tornado program last winter after the two initially worked together during the 2007 campaign at Dyersburg, visited with his defensive coordinator on Sunday — as did assistant coach Morgan Cruce and Bowling’s son Chase, a sophomore member of the Union City team.
Bowling said it was indicated to him that Kennedy — depending upon the form of treatment — could remain in the Memphis hospital until the end of the week at least, and maybe longer. His return to the Tornado faculty/football staff is uncertain but appears to be well down the road.
“The family is going to have some decisions to make after they meet with the head of the burn unit today,” Bowling said. “We’re interested in Wes’s well-being and health right now, and everything else is secondary and essentially non-important.”
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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