Thursday April 18, 2013 11:30 AM EDT
Former Army Officer Bruce Mendelsohn Helped Victims In the Aftermath of the Boston Bombings
On marathon day I was enjoying a post-race party with about two dozen people at an office right across from the finish line. At around 4:10 on the marathon clock I saw a flash from the corner of my eye; a blast wave immediately blew me off the couch upon which I was sitting and onto the floor.
I yelled at my brother – who'd finished the race over an hour before – to get all the people away from the windows, in case there was a secondary explosion. As soon as I said that, the second explosion detonated.
Once I saw all the people at the party were secure in the back of the office, I ran down the stairs to the ground floor. I almost slid on the glass shards and blood that was on the ground. I saw a woman with a deep calf wound; I grabbed a t-shirt and tied a tourniquet above the wound. I grabbed a Boston firefighter – Jimmy Plourde – and instructed him to evacuate the woman.
Ken McGagh / MetroWest Daily News / ZUMA
I then heard a woman keening for her son. I grabbed her, told her to stay put, and that I'd find her son. I looked around and saw a boy, dazed, about 20 feet away. I ran over to him, turned him in the direction of the woman, and said, "Hey buddy, is that your mommy?" He nodded affirmatively. I picked him up, ran him over to his mom, and yelled at them to get out of the area.
I then ran up to some Boston PD officers and instructed them to establish a security perimeter, to make sure no one besides authorized people entered the scene. They quickly responded. I moved to a couple more wounded people, loaded non-ambulatory wounded onto wheelchairs and then onto ambulances. Ambulatory wounded I literally pushed out of the area.
After about 12 to 15 minutes, the scene was completely under control. A Boston PD special operations officer asked me who I was, and I said, "I'm just a guy trying to help." He said if I want to help, I should leave the area.
I went back into the office building, up the stairs, and reunited with my brother who was waiting with the others who hadn't left the office. I took a photo of the scene before I left out the back, via the fire escape, and joined with the thousands of people fleeing across the Mass Ave bridge.
Courtesy Bruce Mendelsohn
People call me a hero but I'm not. I guess my Army training kicked in, along with my desire to do something, anything, to help. I was angry that someone took away from this special day.
To me, my actions reflect the American spirit. I won't allow terrorism to defeat us, and if my actions that day helped reflect that desire, so much the better.