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ER Doctor Looks Back A Year After Marathon Bombing

On this day a year ago, Bostonians got one of their first glimpses into the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, when emergency room physician Ron Medzon came on our program.

“It was just one after another after another,” he said of the victims being brought into the hospital. “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.”

Thirteen area hospitals received 180 patients. Emergency rooms turned into MASH units. A year after the marathon bombing, Dr. Medzon reflects on the fact that none of those 180 patients died.

“It’s incredible. It’s incredible. There is no other word to describe it,” he tells Here & Now’s Robin Young.

He plans to be at the finish line for the upcoming Boston Marathon to cheer on hospital nurses who are running, as well as his wife, Karyn Miller-Medzon, a Here & Now producer who is running to support Boston Medical Center.

Interview Highlights: Dr. Ron Medzon

On whether the aftermath of the bombing sticks with him

“It does. Yeah, it stays with me. It’s not on a day-to-day basis, but once in a while, especially the staff I worked with that day will start talking about it, and all of a sudden I feel this constriction in my throat. Tears kinda start to well up, and I realize that I’m certainly not over it.”

On his reaction to hearing we spoke with survivor Jeff Bauman this week

“What’s interesting is not only do I have sort of a visual and emotional memory, but I even remember sort of the smell in the room. It was very much like the smell of a fire victim or a fireman coming in from a fire. I could smell — it was burning flesh. Not to be too graphic.”

On whether he might have some post-traumatic stress

“I would say yes. I wouldn’t ever believe that that was something that could happen. I mean, we see trauma — you know, the day after the marathon bombing, we had ten penetrating trauma victims at Boston Medical Center, so it was business as usual. So we see this all the time. But there really is something — I saw some coverage this morning, some memorials, and it really grabs me.”

On seeing patient and survivor Adrianne Haslet-Davis on Dancing with the Stars

“I’m obviously really happy for her, but I still can’t help but feel — you know, I think about what’s happening in the background. All the pain. All the work. All the rehab. It can’t be easy. She has to live with this every single day.”

On the mix of feelings about the upcoming Boston Marathon

“There’s absolutely a mix of feelings. There’s also just a small percentage of dread as well. I mean, I don’t know. Who knows what’s going to happen? I’ve already mapped out in my mind how I’m going to get back to the hospital if heaven forbid something else happens.”

Guest

  • Dr. Ron Medzon, emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center, where he is director for medical simulation. He is also an associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A flag that says "Boston Medical Center Strong" waves outside of Boston Medical Center, a year after the Boston Marathon bombing. (Ron Medzon)
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A flag that says "Boston Medical Center Strong" waves outside of Boston Medical Center, a year after the Boston Marathon bombing. (Ron Medzon)
These banners pictured at Boston Medical Center, a year after the Boston Marathon bombing, traveled to 50 states and were signed by more than 50,000 people. (Ron Medzon)
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These banners pictured at Boston Medical Center, a year after the Boston Marathon bombing, traveled to 50 states and were signed by more than 50,000 people. (Ron Medzon)