Monday, April 15, 2013

Don't Let The Bastard Win

They say people who are trauma junkies just haven't seen enough trauma yet.

I've seen enough.

Was volunteering at the finish line medical tent, helping runners who needed a little attention.  Had some interesting conversations with folks, ran into some friends from volunteering the past few years.  Someone said the volume of those needing medical care was down from the last few years, which I also noticed.  My goal for the day was to be bored and under-utilized.


I knew - and I don't know how I knew - but I knew it was a bomb.  I prayed it was a transformer or generator.  But I knew.

From inside the tent - with a view after the finish line of Boylston Street - I saw people start running in an area where they normally celebrate the joy of finishing the Boston Marathon.  We immediately got to work clearing the tent of everyone who could walk; I then got word about a bomb.

Then the tent PA system called for all doctors and IV nurses to head to the finish line.

I ran to the finish line.  The whole time all I could think of was helping, despite the voice in the back of my head telling me about 'secondary devices' and the possibility that I could be next.  I ran to the area anyway.

(I would love to insert a joke about how ER docs aren't very smart, but then I would be calling all the first responders who were there not smart.  They were brave, and that bravery saved lives).

While running there, while sending messages to Marni letting her now I was OK and Judy that she needed to get to Wayland to help with Luke until Marni got home, I started to see the carnage.  No other word will ever describe the images that are now permanently in my minds eye.  My brain went over into thinking, 'This is just a Mass Casualty Drill; these people are just actors.'  Then I realized I was wrong, and these people were truly injured.

I saw injuries you should never see at a marathon finish line, or on Boylston street, or ANYWHERE.  I won't give details, but it was gruesome.

I got to work, helping out, doing some instructions, handing supplies.  There were tons of people - BPD, BFD, BEMS, other docs - and while I was a little hands-on, I was more trying to get people doing what needed to be done.  We boarded some, transported others immediately, and then were cleared out of the area.

Back at the medical tent, it was more of the same.  Helping out where I could, comforting patients and medical staff as well as BEMS, making sure people were breathing, had IV lines.  Probably the biggest thing I did was to write people's names and details along with emergency number on paper that I then stuffed into their shirt, so folks on the receiving end would have a little info.  Sometimes even just writing an emergency phone number in marker on the patient's chest.

When they told us to clear out after checking in with our section leaders, I left.  I walked out, answered questions folks had where I could.  Obviously called Marni and texted others to let them know I was OK - shaken, changed forever, but OK.  

I want to be angry - but it'll be misplaced, as I will never have the opportunity to face the person who did this.

I'm a triathlete; I enjoy participating in these events.  I enjoy volunteering at these events.  These were innocent people, out on a sunny spring day to cheer on family and friends - my friends - in accomplishing what for some is a lifetime achievement.  Celebrating life, healthy living, raised money for charities to help others.

How dare you, you fucking soul-less prick, destroy lives on a day like this - or any other day?  How dare you, you heartless bastard, take lives on this or any other day?

Came home, hugged Marni.  Luke is amazing at picking up when someone is upset, so I waited until he was asleep until I came home - didn't want to upset him with my emotions.  Was reminded how precious life is, how little slights aren't important, and we need to celebrate every day.  Tell our loved-ones that we do love them.  Hug family and friends more than we did.  Give of ourselves.

We cannot let this bastard win.  As soon as we stop congregating, celebrating life, living the way we want - he has won.

Thank you for all the phone calls, text messages, emails, FB and twitter posts checking on me.  As I said above, shaken, changed but I'm OK.  Please pray for thos who have been injured - and worse.

And don't let the bastard win.


  1. Incredible insight Bryan, thanks for sharing. Most of all thanks for being there volunteering then going above and beyond.

  2. Thank you for all you did to help the situation. So very sorry anyone had to endure what must have been horrific.

  3. WOW! my baby in diapers is a hero of sorts and really good at sharing his thoughts- love you buddy!

  4. Thank you so very much for sharing.

  5. Thank you for everything you did, and thank you for writing about it. I can't imagine the pictures you will carry in your head. Praying for you and for all affected and definitely celebrating every day.

    1. Words can not say how proud I am of you for being there to help those in need. It will affect you for the rest of your life. You will re-live the scenes in you mine for years to come. But your actions may have saved numerous lives of people which you will never know, but that is not important. The important part is that you did not run. You did what I would have expected of you. Your Loving Father