BOSTON (PAI) - Boston unionists, specifically Fire Fighters Local 718, the Massachusetts Nurses Association and the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, stepped forward quickly but calmly to tend to the three dead and aid the 174 wounded in the twin bombings at the finish line of the famed Boston Marathon, April 15.
The health care tent at the marathon's Copley Square destination was quickly converted into an improvised trauma center, members of MNA, a National Nurses United affiliate, reported. That was despite lack of proper supplies for severe trauma, such as dressings and anti-pain medication. On the street and in the tent nurses started IVs and stopped bleeding.
Nurse Jim Asaiante, who had served with the military in Iraq, said the "mayhem" reminded him of the war zone. The blasts were like those of the improvised explosive devices that fighters use to blow up U.S. vehicles and troops in Iraq.
Police managed to peacefully disperse the massive crowd gathered to watch the marathon away from the crime scene in an orderly manner. Firefighters responded to the alarms with trucks, ambulances, EMTs and specially trained union members.
Union officers, led by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, offered condolences and sympathy to victims and families. Amalgamated Transit Union President Larry Hanley called the bombing "vicious and senseless," and warned his mass transit and intercity bus driver members to be extra vigilant against similar attacks. Local 718 and the police union jointly offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the bombers.
"We worked 'together' with the Boston Police, Boston EMS, and other branches of service. I have never been prouder to be a member of the Boston Fire Department," Local 718 President Richard Paris said. "This historic tragedy brought out the best in us all, as service men and women and as human beings. We must continue to do so."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured at the Boston Marathon and the people in Boston," Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger added. "We are thankful for our members and other brave first responders helping those in need."
"We condemn those who carried out these acts and practice such hatred," said Trumka. "Many questions remain, but such tragedies remind us of the fragility of life, but also the ability for our communities to come together and heal. We commend all the first responders who time and time again risk their lives and run towards chaos to attend to the injured and comfort those in need."
President Obama called the bombing an act of terror and said all efforts would be made to find and punish the perpetrators. Neither he nor the police nor the FBI named who was responsible. No group took responsibility.
Photo: Police officers come to the aid of a fallen man during the Boston attacks. John Tlumacki/AP & The Boston Globe