Boston Marathon response, Police Officers, and Georgia

I am sure that like most Americans I was horrified over what I saw in Boston at the Marathon bombing. I also know that as I re-watched everything time and again, I was reminded of a quote by Mr Rogers the children’s TV show host who always told children watching a tragedy “to look for the helpers”. There were plenty of them.
As a firefighter I empathized with the fire and EMS response and reflected on training which is my passion. We have all been to MCI drills and maybe even handled a few accidents with a couple of mini vans, or a bus, but how many of us have ever been exposed to 170 patients and many, many losses of limbs and critical patients? Sure there have been a few but most responders have never been there.
A lot of America watched this and marveled at the response, as it was truly something to marvel at. What most people do not know is how extensive the planning and preparation is for the marathon. the Boston Athletic Association hosts over 20,000 runners and the plans for handling this over a 26 mile course involves thousands of first responders, civilian volunteers, amateur radio operators, doctors, nurses, private ambulances, public services, police and on and on. The planning and preps paid off, and although I am sure they had discussed things like this, they did not have this outcome first on their mind on a beautiful day in April.
I was also heartened to see so many civilians trying to help one another. Any fire, police or EMS person will tell you it is not hard to work in the face of danger. It is what we do. Instinct, caring, experience and training kick in and you just do it. But for total strangers to jump in, get covered in another’s blood to help save lives, makes me proud to be an American. These responders and civilians also worked in the unknown, wondering if there were more devices left behind.
The police response to the act of terrorism, and monumental crime scene was phenomenal. I have many friends who are police officers, and a few police chiefs, and over the years I have made more than my fair share of cop vs. firemen jokes, but I can say that after watching the combined response of the police in their efforts and handling the incident, and the subsequent investigation and capture of these suspects, I am speechless. I made an analogy about how many EMTs had experienced 170 patients, well how many officers outside of their military experience have had “hundreds of rounds” firefights in their communities? I have done some pretty dangerous things in my time as a firefighter but my respect for these officers digging in and returning fire with determination redefines courage and brings honor to their profession. From the Red side to the Blue side I salute you!
I also wish to express my condolences for the loss of life of an MIT police officer Sean Collier who was executed and an MBTA police officer Richard Donohue who was critically wounded in this firefight.
As I mention our police brothers and blue, I would be remiss if I did not mention the police effort in Gwinnett County Georgia where a tactical team went in and rescued 4 firefighters who had been taken hostage. The training, experience and perception of those officers moving in at the right critical time clearly saved lives.
Even though this is a fire and emergency services blog, I must take time to recognize the doctors and nurses who served both along the marathon route and also back in the hospital feverishly working to save lives and fix broken bodies. I sit and think here this morning of nurses on duty who yesterday cared for victims of the bombing and who now today must put away their feelings and emotions and care for the man who caused all of the pain and suffering they have had to witness. If you see or know a nurse, make sure to acknowledge what they do.
And please remember that as we “celebrate” (if that is even the right word) the capture of bomber # 2, many people have had their lives changed forever. People have lost their lives, have lost limbs, some remain in critical condition, and civilians and responders alike will have mental scars for a very long time. In the spirit of the fire service and America “WE MUST NEVER FORGET”
Be grateful for the things you have, never take today for granted, and say thank you to all of the “helpers” that you know and meet.
I am proud to be an American, I am proud to live in Massachusetts, and I am proud to have served as a firefighter.
Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013