Veterans, Military Families Among First Responders in Boston



Soon after two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday, videos and photos of the grim aftermath flooded social media and cable news. One image quickly stood out—a man in a cowboy hat rushing a badly injured victim from the scene, and from some reports, clasping the man’s femoral artery in his hands.

The response came natural to Carlos Arredondo, who instinctively reacted by using his training as a fireman and treating injured bullfighters from his native Costa Rica. But he wasn’t just another spectator; he came to support troops and Veterans running the marathon, and carried the memory of his son, Alexander, a Marine who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

Mr. Arredondo and another bystander quickly applied a makeshift tourniquet on a man with a lower leg amputation. Meanwhile, Roupen Bastajian, a Rhode Island state trooper and a former Marine who had already finished the marathon, began applying tourniquets to the legs of several other victims. He joined National Guardsmen who were on the scene to provide crowd control assistance before bombs tore through the crowd. Some were on hand after finishing the marathon with 40-pound rucks on their backs. Their role quickly became a rescue effort.

Team Red, White and Blue, a Veterans group that brings together Vets and civilians through sports, had 17 of its members on hand at the marathon. One member used his shirt to provide aid to another bystander—quick thinking that seems to come natural to people experienced with complex and traumatic situations.

It’s barely been 24 hours since the attacks, and there’s still a lot we don’t know about what happened. One thing we do know is this: because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are many people in the country that are skilled in treating traumatic injuries like amputations and traumatic brain injuries. Physicians have a larger breadth of knowledge about these injuries than a dozen years ago, and lessons learned from the wars undoubtedly saved many lives in operating rooms in and around Boston.

But there’s another consequence of two long insurgent campaigns, where horrific bombings and amputations are regrettably too common. They have produced hundreds of thousands of men and women who respond to emergency situations quickly, effectively, and with tremendous compassion. Monstrous acts like the marathon bombing are only effective when good people fail to respond in that manner.

Team RWB has already vowed to keep that idea going strong. They are planning response runs to show solidarity for the victims of the bombings—and to show the country their skills and experiences are lifelong imprints that in any moment could save another.

Photo courtesy Team Red, White and Blue.

Author

Alex Horton

Comments

  1. heather andrews    

    ONCE A HERO ALWAYS A HERO! PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN VETERAN!

  2. Catherine    

    Great article! Some experiences you cannot “unlearn” and the repetitive drilling required by the armed services insures that the service member will respond almost instinctively to an action, such as a bombing event, in a manner similar to the training. We carry our skills with us long after we leave the armed services.

  3. Joyce E. Points    

    Not Again! This is nothing but terrorism!
    The Boston Marathon is an annual project, and people from all over the country come.
    We must, I repeat, must find out who is behind this!
    Our Country is being attacked and I know that we have a war against Terrorism, but this is too close again! Yes, our military veterans, families, and military members would react to this immediately with all of their skills and hearts, but every person in America must be aware and purposely aware of these actions and be personally alert and ready to take action against these threats and actions.
    These ” Sneaking Predators” will continue to try to damage our way of life and our citizens if we are not personally involved with the “War on Terrorism”.
    I am attempting to Call Every American to take action now. This cannot continue!
    I am not a revolutionary or a nut, I am an American Jew who knows what can happen. These acts are not the only way that terrorists attack our country. They will work on our economy, education, politics, religious values, as well as espionage. Join with me to pray for Boston, the families of 9/11, and our country. Become more personally aware of your country’s environment in all of these areas and your personal standing with Our Heavenly Father, because We are going to really need His help and strength.
    I am also a Veteran and very proud to be! Remember that Our Country’s founding fathers started with the statement, “In God We Trust”! This must not be forgotten or made fun of.
    May God be with Boston and All of America! Stand firm and be AWARE! We are not alone and neither is Israel who suffers this daily. Let us stand together. How can I help?

  4. Don Owens    

    My Prayers go out to all the people of Boston after this tragic terrorist attack. The US Military is and always has been the best trained and caring people in the world. They understand the concept of “never leaving a fallen comrade” to the nth degree. That same concept pertains also to the civilian population we are sworn to protect. All of those Military persons who assisted in this horrific event deserve any Praise we can heap on them, even though they will probably say they were just doing what they were trained to do. I have worked side by side with these folks, first as a soldier and now as a US Department of Defense Emergency Essential Employee and I have to say, I love the US Military and my 49 years working with them have been well worth every minute.

  5. Carolyn Cox    

    WOW!! Thank You for Your Service… in the wars, and back home!!

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