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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ER Doctor Describes Bombing Aftermath

Boston Medical Center. (Wikimedia Commons)

Boston Medical Center. (Wikimedia Commons)

Boston Medical Center was on front lines of treating people who were injured in the Boston Marathon explosions on Monday.

The hospital is just over a mile away from the blast site.

“Every single person had a limb-threatening injury, a life-threatening injury. And I think 20 people came in over 40 minutes, which is just incredible.”
– Dr. Ron Medzon

Dr. Ron Medzon is an emergency room physician there, as well as an associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine. He’s also the husband of Here & Now producer Karyn Miller-Medzon.

“We have a disaster radio that goes off, and we’re supposed to get some sort of notification, but there was such chaos at the scene that all we really got was the notification that there had been an explosion,” Medzon told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “We just tried to get ready as fast as we could. We had no idea what was coming.”

A period of waiting, then “all hell broke loose”

The first patient who came in had lost both legs and was “near death,” Medzon said.

“We started to work on him, and it was just one after another after another,” he said. “Every single person had a limb-threatening injury, a life-threatening injury. And I think 20 people came in over 40 minutes, which is just incredible.”

The hospital was able to get nine operating rooms up and running within 40 minutes of the initial call.

The feeling of dealing with such a scene

“There’s stress. You really want to do the best for every person,” Medzon said. “I got my patient stabilized and just started running from patient to patient to make sure that everyone else was also getting the attention they needed. And every single patient had at least two or three super-competent, compassionate people working on them.”

One patient whose legs were “completely torn apart” in the attack was trying to find his three-year-old child. Another woman with a “really bad leg injury” told him she was a competitive dancer, and begged him to save her leg.

“I just felt super horrible. I mean, there are no words when someone says that to you. There are no words,” he said. “I think they were able to save her leg, but I really don’t know what condition she’s in. I want to visit her later.”

Whoever planted the bombs picked the wrong city

“If they were trying to kill a lot of people, Boston EMS is one of the finest EMS services in the country, and we have so many world-class medical facilities within a couple miles of the finish line,” he said, noting that some of the patients had just minutes left to live, and were saved because the hospitals were so close by. “I’m really proud of the job we did.”

And Medzon said he hopes to be at the marathon next year.

“I want to be standing in that spot, watching the marathon next year,” he said. “I really just feel that people shouldn’t be able to disrupt our lives in that way.”

Guest:

  • Dr. Ron Medzon, emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center, and an associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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