5 Years After Boston Marathon Bombings, Home Base Team Reflects

Sunday, April 15, 2018 marks the five-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing in Boston. The blasts killed three spectators: Krystle Campbell, 29, Lu Lingzi, 23, and Martin Richard, 8. The bombs wounded 263 others, and cost more than a dozen to lose some of their limbs.

The tragic, horrifying and heroic images of that day are now central to Boston’s identity as a city of grit, determination and camaraderie. Over the years, we’ve watched the resiliency of the Boston community grow and witnessed what a city can do when emergency workers, politicians, healthcare providers, athletes and the rest of the community come together in unity and renewed strength.

“Look for the helpers”

One of the great teachers of all time, Mr. Rogers, still provides instruction for dealing with the terror and violence that bombard our world: “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Amid the chaos at the finish line on that Patriots Day 2013, police officers, medical workers and some of the runners and spectators ran towards the blast sites to help the injured. A medical tent, set up near the finish line for exhausted runners, suddenly became a facility for treating the blast victims

Our military service members from the MA National Guard, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and first responders were on the front lines in Copley Square.  They were doing what they do best: taking care of the injured, helping to keep order, representing the best of our nation.

Massachusetts General Hospital caregivers and staff were also on the front lines extending their extraordinary skill and boundless compassion to save lives and comfort families and friends in their loss, including Dr. Ross Zafonte, Home Base’s Chief of Traumatic Brain Injury, Health and Fitness Programs, who at the time was the chief medical officer at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network

There were victims with physical wounds, but as we know very well at Home Base, there are victims who still struggle with the psychological impact of the attacks.  Following the attacks, our Home Base team was on the frontlines providing education on these invisible wounds. Home Base’s Family Team offered guidance for military parents on how to talk their children about the troubling incidents on the news, while a parent is deployed.  This same approach was applied to parents as they struggled to explain the events of the attacks to their children.

“True to the founding ethos of MGH – ‘when in need, every person becomes our neighbor’ – the staff at Home Base answered the call to bring healing and hope to the Boston community after the marathon bombing”, said Michael Allard, Home Base’s Chief Operating Officer. “We remain ready and vigilant to bring our expertise and compassion to those in need in the future.”

Crisis counseling and psychological first aid were essential in the immediate aftermath of the bombing, and their value and the importance of continuing care cannot be overstated. Throughout the years, Home Base has continued to work closely with city officials to address the short and long-term mental health needs of those who suffered the traumatic events, including post-traumatic stress, anxiety, traumatic brain injury, and associated symptoms such as headaches, cognitive problems, and balance difficulties.

“Much like Veterans who suffer adverse effects after returning from combat, many of those who were near the site of the marathon bombings continue to experience a wide range of complex issues,” said John Herman, M.D., associate chief of the MGH Department of Psychiatry and a member of the advisory panel for the One Fund Center, in a statement. “The physical and psychological scars of such a significant and tragic event often require long-term, coordinated treatments to help alleviate the lingering debilitating effects.”

Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox – the city’s beloved baseball team and one of Home Base’s founding partners – responded by reaching out to the community, raising funds for victims and their families and hosting a memorable tribute to first responders, police officers, runners, victims and their families, and all those who had been affected by the event. Their purpose, they said, was to reaffirm Boston’s strength as a city.

As we remember those who were killed, injured, and affected by the Patriot’s Day Marathon bombing, we are grateful for the continued strength, endurance, and mental toughness that will be present today and remain so tomorrow on Marathon Monday when thousands will once again line the streets to cheer runners across the marathon finish line – a symbol of the indomitable strength of the human spirit and the noble actions of everyday heroes who deliver hope to those who need it most.

At Home Base, we recognize anniversaries such as this one may carry difficult memories for many of our Veterans, Service Members, and their families. As always, Home Base is here to help. If you need help or would like to speak with someone on our team, click here or call the Home Base clinic at 617-724-5202.