Stratham woman assisted efforts in marathon medical tent
STRATHAM - The carnage will forever haunt Heather Bond McCormick.
When she agreed to volunteer to help in the Boston Marathon medical tent, the Stratham mother never expected to witness bloodshed. She was there, under the tent near the finish line, when the first bomb exploded Monday.
Twelve seconds later another bomb blew.
"The bomb went off and the entire place went silent. We all looked around," she said.
Moments later, the wounded began arriving in the tent, one by one.
"Every single person that was affected in the blast came right into our tent. I saw every single one of them. There were people covered in blood, some with their legs blown off," she said Wednesday.
McCormick, 35, decided to volunteer in a non-clinical role with a good friend, physician assistant Dixie Patterson of Newburyport, Mass. McCormick was charged with taking down names, bib numbers, ages, and other information when runners entered the tent in need of medical attention.
While McCormick didn't treat the bombing victims, she and others turned their pod into a makeshift supply area. She was in an area near the back of the tent where ambulances waited to transport the victims.
"Our area became the go-to area for EMS workers to get their supplies," said McCormick, who is an office manager for a medical group in Portsmouth.
"It was a relatively calm chaos," she said.
Critical care sections were set up under the tent, along with a morgue.
"We saw lots of lower leg injuries. There was blood all over the floor. It was absolutely gruesome and horrifying," she said. "It's certainly something that will never go away. The last couple of days have been nothing but those images."
By 5 p.m. on Monday, a grief-stricken McCormick left the tent and headed for home.
Her father-in-law, a Vietnam veteran, said he would be there for her whenever she was ready to talk about her experience.
"He would relate the best to what I had witnessed, having been in the battlefield in Vietnam," she said.