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Tufts Public Health » Awareness, Boston Marathon, Boston Strong, Emergencies, Emergency Preparedness, Medical Community, Uncategorized » Strength, Resilience, and Pride: The Medical Community Remembers the Boston Marathon 2013

Strength, Resilience, and Pride: The Medical Community Remembers the Boston Marathon 2013


I was home in Chicago when I heard the news. My mom had just picked me up after a long day of work, and I was dialing the Tufts phone number to inquire about on-campus housing.  As I was about to press “call,” my mom asked me, “Did you hear about the explosions at the Boston Marathon?” Quickly, I closed my phone. Having attended Emerson College for undergraduate school, located just a few blocks away from the Marathon finish line on Boylston Street, Boston was my second home. When she told me about the explosions, we did not yet know if they were terrorist attacks. The week continued and as the events unfolded, I prayed for the swift recovery of this incredibly strong city. One year later, as a Tufts PHPD student, I think about that day without just thinking about the horror and sadness. As I respectfully honor the victims, as well as the unexpected heroes who stepped forward, I also think about the health implications of such a tragedy.

The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing proved the strength, courage, and passion of the people of Boston. In the public health arena, it also showed the successes that come with hospital emergency preparedness.

Communication and Collaboration:

Tufts Medical Center (Tufts MC) was one of the 27 hospitals that treated injured victims. However, it was the only one that had to evacuate its entire emergency room. Despite the current patients, machinery, and general commotion of an emergency room, they were able to do so in just seven minutes. During the evacuation, those who needed surgery were promptly prepped and triaged. Tufts MC’s certified nurses, administrative personnel with medical training, and off-duty doctors and surgeons rushed in to contribute to the mounting number of patients and medical needs. Just like all of the other hospitals and medical centers who treated victims, every single admitted patient survived. This was not only due to the outstanding medical treatment that they received- it can also be greatly attributed to the communication and collaboration between doctors, nurses, hospital staff, patients, and families. They were able to do it efficiently, without adding additional confusion to the already chaotic and horrific situation.

Emergency Personnel at the Finish Line:

Perhaps the only fortunate circumstance of the time and location of the bombing was that there were already emergency responders in the area. Anticipating marathon-related injuries and ailments, emergency responders had set up medical and preliminary triage tents. Accordingly, they were instantly on the scene when the explosions occurred. Not only were they able to immediately treat and triage patients; they could also help evacuate runners and spectators from the area, and coordinate transportation of patients to hospitals.

Emergency Preparedness

On the day of the bombing and in the week that followed, hospital and medical personnel exemplified the meaning of thorough emergency preparedness. Robert Osgood, Emergency Management Director at Tufts MC, had been dedicated to planning for MCIs (Mass-casualty incidences) for quite some time prior to the attack. He had already worked with staff to develop a Hospital Incident Command System, an emergency response team with strict classification guidelines for incidences and response plans. Dir. Osgood’s work was consistent with the work of the overall emergency preparedness in Boston. The Boston Healthcare Preparedness Coalition (14 medical centers), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and City of Boston first responder agencies (i.e. Boston EMS and Boston Police) had established emergency protocols and provided training simulations and drills. The organizations still work together, constantly improving such protocols and administering more simulations and drills.

On April 15th, 2013, Boston changed forever. Yet in the wake of the tragedy, we have learned valuable lessons in the importance and success of emergency planning and preparedness; lessons that can be applied nationwide. We have learned that Boston is home to countless heroes and to citizens who display indescribable acts of selflessness and courage. And we have learned why we can be called Boston Strong.

The Tufts community joins the city of Boston- and the rest of the country- as we remember the victims and the heroes of last year’s act of terrorism. We do not face this marathon with fear. Today, we celebrate how far we have come.

Sammi Gassel is a student in the MS in Health Communication Program at Tufts University School of Medicine and is also a James Hyde Newsletter Intern for the Tufts “Public Health Rounds” newsletter.

We would like to give a special thank-you to Tufts University School of Medicine, MD/MBA ‘17 students Maria Arshanskiy, Courtney Scanlon, Dan Rodkey, and Rohan Jotwani, as well as Dr. Deeb Salem and Dir. Robert Osgood for their insight.

Filed under: Awareness, Boston Marathon, Boston Strong, Emergencies, Emergency Preparedness, Medical Community, Uncategorized

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