Boston blast weelchair 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
NEW YORK – After two bombs tore apart the limbs of Bostonians as they celebrated
their Patriots’ Day with a marathon, and as 18 victims were rushed to Tufts
Medical Center while over 100 others were scattered among other facilities, at
least one doctor at that hospital knew the drill.
David Spector wasn’t
just an attending surgeon at Ichilov Hospital at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel
Aviv during the second intifada. He served in the Airborne Rescue and Evacuation
Unit 669 – one of the most elite units of the Israel Air Force.
life, he explained, forced doctors to work together as if their country required
it of them. And quite honestly, he simply didn’t expect the same camaraderie to
come from Americans.
“No one in Boston is used to it, and their reactions
were very different from what I expected,” he said. “They became viscerally
emotional, and patriotic. Suddenly everyone was very close.”
became clear that the city was under attack, a tremendous sense of community
drove Spector’s colleagues in a way he hadn’t seen in the four years since he
had first arrived in the US.
He characterized his reaction as a cultural
mechanism that, while perhaps a byproduct of unfortunate circumstances, enables
him to do his job efficiently and without emotional delay. It’s a trial-by-fire
that literally comes with the territory.
And yet, while Spector tried to
advise his colleagues at Tufts not to be afraid when leaving work for home – the
entire city of Boston went into virtual lockdown, as the identity of the
still-at-large 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was publicly revealed – he found
himself reflecting on whether it was a faux sense of panic on the part of a
privileged nation, or whether he himself was in someway jaded, cynical or
hardened from seeing so many limbs in his past.
As Spector made his way
to the hospital, he missed that golden hour of aid for the victims: when blood
loss must be abated; when decisions have to be made on amputations. By the time
he got there, most of those decisions had been made. And what Spector saw took
him by surprise.
“In a potential mass-casualty situation, they really are
well-organized, and I didn’t expect that here coming from Israel,” Spector
Tufts managed to prevent any limb amputations, and had no
fatalities among the victims it treated.
“At the end of the day, a lot of
patients that were severely injured were suddenly dumped onto a bunch of Boston
hospitals,” Spector added.
“And even though they’re not used to this
stuff, the emergency procedures in place were very effective.”