THE BLOG

One Year After: A Tribute From an ER Physician

On April 15, 2013, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and walked to Mass General Hospital to begin my ER shift. It was the day of Boston marathon, and we were prepared for the usual influx of people with heatstroke and dehydration. Just before 3 p.m., we received the call that nobody could have predicted.
04/15/2014 11:55am ET | Updated June 15, 2014
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In this April 25, 2013 photo, running shoes and other items adorn a makeshift memorial near the Boston Marathon finish line in Boston's Copley Square. Thousands of items from the original memorial for marathon bombing victims are going on display at the Boston Public Library in April 2014 to mark the anniversary of the attacks. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

On April 15, 2013, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and walked to Mass General Hospital to begin my ER shift. It was the day of Boston marathon, and we were prepared for the usual influx of people with heatstroke and dehydration. That day, as other days, we also treated dozens of critically ill patients with heart attacks, strokes, and severe infections

Just before 3 p.m., we received the call that nobody could have predicted. Bombs had detonated at the Boston marathon. Many people were gravely injured.

Minutes later, they arrived in our ER. Some were not breathing. Others were missing limbs. All were covered with blood and soot.

As an emergency physician, I am trained to treat traumatic injuries. But while I helped direct our trauma teams to triage then resuscitate these patients, I was terrified. My husband and I lived in Back Bay, next to the explosions. He had texted me not long before to say that he was headed to the finish line to watch the marathon. I didn't know where he was; I feared that the next patient I took care of could be him.

I wrote about this fear and guilt, and subsequently about the need to care for the many health care providers who served on that day.

Now, one year later, I no longer live in Boston, but I will always remember April 15. I remember the bravery and resourcefulness of the first responder, bystanders, and volunteers. I remember the teamwork in our hospital among every service -- not just those of us caring for the victims themselves, but also those oncologists and obstetricians who jumped in and provided excellent care for other patients in our ER. I remember the support from our city and indeed our broader community in the U.S. and around the world.

Most of all, I remember the courage of the victims and their families. Their resilience serves as inspiration for all of us.

As I think back to April 15, 2013, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to take care of these brave men, women, and children. I'm honored to be able to serve and proud to be a physician and emergency care provider.