Medical Community Pauses to Remember Traumatic Day

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When marathon bombing victims were rushed through the doors of Boston Medical Center last year, little did the medical staff know what they were in for that day, or in the weeks and months that followed. Amid the chaos and confusion, their job was to provide medical care and relief to many of the 264 who were injured.

One year later, the staff gathered in honor of those victims at a “BMC Strong” flag raising ceremony on Monday.

Marking the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, the ceremony was not only a way to reflect on the events of last year but also to move forward. Boston Emergency Medical Services and Boston Public Health Commission staff joined BMC and members of the public in the event which was held in front of BMC’s Moakley building.

“Last Monday Marathon was different,” Kate Walsh, President and CEO of BMC said in her opening remarks. “That day and in the days that followed, the character and compassion of BMC in every corner of our hospital was revealed for the whole world to see.” She talked about the teamwork that was on display that day from the administration, the transporters, the social workers, and nursing staff to the trauma services.

“As much as we are humbled by the outpouring of support, love, hope and healing within the past year for our city and our hospital, this is also a time to remember that we provide exceptional care to victims of violence and all our patients every day,” Walsh said.

Peter Burke, chief of trauma services at BMC, was also present at the ceremony. He was responsible for attending to many of the needs of the Marathon victims last year. “Our response to the bombing revealed to me a new standard,” Burke told the audience. “We want to strive for this new standard.”

Among those affected by the bombings was 65-year-old John Odom. Last April, he and his wife Karen travelled from southern California to see their daughter cross the finish line at Boylston Street. Odom was critically injured and underwent 11 operations to mend severed arteries in each leg. After nearly three weeks in critical condition, Odom was released from hospital on May 24, making him the last Boston bombing survivor to leave BMC.

He returned to the site of his recovery on Monday and expressed his gratitude to the hospital and the city. “I stand here today, in front of you to thank you personally for saving my life,” Odom said. “BMC, my family is, and will forever be indebted to you.”

The half-hour ceremony concluded with the flag rising to the sound of “God Bless America” sung by Irish tenor Ronan Tynan. Parts of the America 4 Boston Prayer Canvas – a travelling message of support signed by more than 50,000 people from all 50 states and 30 nations – were on display and available for the BMC staff to sign.

Nurse Lauren Harney, who was part of the trauma services, looked back on her experience a year ago. “I don’t think you can even prepare for something like that,” said Harney. “The only lesson is to have gratitude every day, you know, just be grateful.”

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