Doctor Recalls Chaotic Scene in Medical Tent After Blasts

The Copley Square area completely deserted aside from police, firefighters and EMS.

Dr. Martin Levine was standing outside a medical tent on Boylston Street Monday afternoon, a half-block from the finish line, when he felt the violent force of the first blast. 

“Make way! We’re going to have casualties … we need room,” Levine yelled into the medical tent filled with hundreds of runners. 

The 62-year-old New Jersey resident had taken the day off from his sports and family medical practice in Bayonne, as he has done every year for the last 19 years, to work the finish line at the Boston Marathon. 

He usually spent the day tending to sprained ankles, knee pain, shin splints and other common distance running injuries.

But this year would be different.  

As the first explosion hit, Levine saw the plume of smoke rise from the crowd at the finish line and said he knew instantly that at least 35 to 40 people were injured.

Levine began running toward the injured as the second bomb went off and kept running. He thought there might be a third explosion, but he couldn’t stop.

“There’s no discussion. That’s what you have to do, you don’t stop,” he said.

He arrived in the area of the first explosion and found a chaotic, gruesome scene: blood covered the street, people’s clothes and skin were still smoking and burnt. Many had lost limbs in the blasts — one man had lost both his legs from his thighs down. 

At one point, while applying pressure to one of the injured’s wounds to stop the bleeding, he looked down and saw a foot on the ground.

“The smell and visual was extreme,” Levine said.

But amid the chaos, he saw hundreds of emergency service workers, police, firefighters and first responders, along with ordinary citizens, working together to help the victims, Levine said. 

Using wheelchairs, backboards and gurneys, they managed to transport the injured back to the medical tent. Patients were given fluids and IVs. Levine and other physicians asked people for their belts and used them as tourniquets in a pinch. 

“We don’t do this kind of work,” Levine said, “no one does this kind of work unless you’re in war.”

“Hopefully we were able to save lives.”

South End Patch