Boston.com (the web portal owned by the Boston Globe) posted an interesting article today that sheds light into the immediate response of Boston EMS to the Marathon bombings. Boston.com and Boston EMS cooperated to combine video footage taken at the scene of the attack immediately after the explosions with Boston EMS radio traffic. Unfortunately, I cannot embed that video in this post. It can be viewed here:
This was not simply a journalistic exercise but originated in Boston EMS’ after action act reporting procedures.
Part of this year’s review included listening to the radio traffic among EMS personnel assigned to the finish line area while watching a video recorded by Boston.com’s Steve Silva, who was filming runners when two bombs exploded on Boylston Street. Silva continued to record the aftermath and scenes from Boylston Street as emergency personnel responded.
Boston.com provided six minutes of Silva’s footage to Boston EMS so a video could be synchronized with the audio of the radio traffic and used for reviewing the events and for future training sessions.
“A lot of people just had so many mental gaps about what happened, that’s why they wanted to hear the tape and once they hear the tape, a lot of it came back,” Kearney said.
Kearney is Brendan Kearney, the superintendent in chief of the Boston Emergency Medical Services. For the article he provides background information for various points in the video.
:33 – The first radio transmission is heard.
“Zone 1 is Copley Square, so the person overseeing Zone 1 (deputy superintendent Mike Bosse, in this case) is calling the UCC, which is the Unified Command Center at Boston Police headquarters, where we have police, fire, EMS representatives all watching monitors and things,” Kearney said.
Personnel on the ground at Boylston Street then transmit details such as “two separate devices” and instructions to be cautious.
Kearney also points to several important actions not apparent in the video:
About one minute after the first explosion, a notification was sent via WebEOC, a web-based program monitored by command posts in communities along the route, MEMA, Public Health & Hospital that an explosion has occurred near the finish line.
About three minutes after the explosions, and right after Chief James Hooley’s update, Boston EMS personnel at Dispatch Operations sent a radio alert to all Boston hospital emergency departments advising of an explosion at the Marathon finish line, and to prepare for a mass casualty incident.
About five minutes after the explosions, additional Boston EMS ambulances are already responding to the incident. Boston EMS contacted mutual aid ambulances via a separate dedicated radio channel requesting additional ambulances respond to a staging area. In addition to Boston EMS units, 60 private ambulances respond to the incident.