Harvard School of Public Health-affiliated physicians were among the hospital emergency department staff called upon to care for victims of the explosions at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.
Stephanie Kayden, MPH ’06, was the senior physician in charge of the emergency room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) that day. A faculty member at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and Harvard Medical School, Kayden led her team in the treatment of 31 patients injured in the bomb blasts. Two were in critical condition and nine had injuries severe enough to go directly into surgery — including a man whose right leg had been blown off below the knee.
“Even though the Brigham had never, to this time, had to respond to a bombing, these mass casualty events, as we call them, are something we train for all the time,” Kayden told the Harvard Gazette in an April 16 article. “When it finally happened, it was a testament to our training and to the drilling by our incident command team at the hospital that everything went as smoothly as it did.”
Michael VanRooyen, HHI director and a professor at HSPH, was among the extra BWH trauma staff called in to help in the emergency room. Looking around, he realized that many of the doctors working were HHI colleagues. In a post on the Initiative’s website, he wrote that the day “was another reminder that the work we do globally is closely tied, in character and impact, to the work we do here at home.”
HSPH’s Atul Gawande on Boston’s preparedness for the marathon tragedy
In an April 17 New Yorker post, Atul Gawande, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, analyzed the successful performance of Boston’s hospitals in the wake of the marathon tragedy, which he sees as a legacy of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Crisis leadership preparedness
Students and alumni of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, a joint venture between HSPH and Harvard Kennedy School, have been involved in the crisis response to the Marathon explosions and in the ongoing investigation. Graduates of the program have senior roles in the Boston Police and Fire departments, as well as with the State Police and several of the federal agencies involved. NPLI faculty members Eric McNulty, Leonard Marcus, and Barry Dorn wrote an April 16 post on leadership during a crisis for Harvard Business Review.