EMS Lessons Learned From the Boston Bombings

Even though EMS personnel continually train and prepare for some of the direst disasters, the after-effects of an event can still leave first responders shocked and even traumatized. And according to a recent article by www.ems1.com, events like those on April 15 at the Boston Marathon put the training and dedication of EMS responders, and others, to the test. EMS1 recently spoke to first responders who were present at the scene of the Boston bombing. After hearing from these emergency workers, it’s clear that training is a key factor in their performance during a disaster, no matter how shocking the event.

Nine-year Boston EMT veteran Danielle Hickey was working with her partner in a standby ambulance near the marathon finish line. Hickey was close to the scene of the first blast. “I thought it was a bomb almost right away. Then the second device exploded,” Hickey told EMS1. “I had a brief moment of panic.” But she didn’t panic long. Her training immediately kicked in. “I just went on autopilot. My partner and I started pulling gear together and made our way toward the first blast site."

Paramedic Katherine Dwyer was there that day as well. She was located in the Marathon medical aid tent to treat patients from the race. She heard the explosion, and while she pondered racing to the scene, an announcement inside the tent told the workers to expect a high amount of casualties. “I trusted the other (BEMS) crews that they would do their job,” Dwyer told EMS1. “My place was here (in the tent).”

The preparedness for a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombings also revealed that communication between responders was vital. Almost as soon as the bombs exploded, a disaster communications plan was rolled out at the site. Reports from first responders at the site quickly went to the command area. Then those communications quickly went to Boston-area hospitals. These steps were pivotal in saving many lives that day.

Another lesson learned that day involved strategic placement and access to emerging equipment. “I knew that our MCI plan was kicking in when I started seeing patients being carried into the tent on backboards, rather than by wheelchairs,” EMS1 quoted Dwyer as saying.

Post-disaster, several operational and stress debriefings took place to assistant anyone in need.

Hickey and Dwyer say their training and sense of duty were critical elements that contributed to a successful operation. “We're trained to be able to react to these events,” Dwyer was quoted as saying. “Stay focused, perform as you were trained, and things will get done.”


For more information about first responder lessons learned following the Boston bombings, visit: http://www.ems1.com/ems-products/medical-equipment/articles/1442047-The-Boston-bombings-and-EMS-Lessons-learned/