SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 24, 2013

North Shore hospitals see blast victims

BY TOM DALTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — As victims of the Boston Marathon bomb blasts were rushed to Boston trauma centers, spectators and runners with less serious injuries headed home to seek treatment at hospitals across Greater Boston.

“About an hour or so after is when we started to see people coming in,” said Dr. Patrick Stevens, an emergency room doctor at Salem Hospital.

Public health officials, who initially said about 180 people were injured by the explosions, revised the figures this week to more than 260 who sought treatment at more than two dozen hospitals.

Salem Hospital and Beverly Hospital combined saw nine patients on April 15, marathon day. All were treated and released. Injuries ranged from a concussion to anxiety.

“One person actually perforated an eardrum and had a fair amount of bleeding,” Stevens said.

The force of the blasts produced shock waves that caused some of the injuries, the ER doctor said. “The shock wave is one of the things we really worry about for internal injuries.”

The North Shore hospitals treated other patients for smoke inhalation, ringing in the ears and stress.

Mental health facilities are also seeing people who were in Copley Square during the explosions and chaotic aftermath.

“We have seen a couple of young adults who were right at the end where the bomb went off,” said Laurie Estey of Victims of Crime and Loss, known as VOCAL, a Beverly-based trauma program run by Lahey Health Behavioral Services.

“They’re dealing with severe PTSD,” she said, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition often associated with people returning from war.

“They thought it was a war zone,” she said. “... Being at the site of the bombing and not knowing what was happening, thinking it was a terrorist attack. ... The fear just completely takes over. ... It’s absolute fear and confusion and not knowing.”

VOCAL, located on Rantoul Street, has child and adult therapists who provide counseling for trauma victims. Lahey also has posted articles and tips on its website (http://nebhealth.org/) to help people cope with the aftermath of the tragedy.

The American Red Cross, in conjunction with the MBTA and The Boston Foundation, is printing 300 posters listing coping tips, which will be displayed on T trains.

The most serious cases of the marathon bombings have been widely reported. Three people were killed, including an 8-year-old Dorchester boy, and 14 lost all or part of a limb, officials said.

The Boston Public Health Commission says the larger number of injuries includes people who delayed seeking treatment. For example, some people had ringing in their ears from the blasts that they thought might go away, but which persisted for several days. Other people sought delayed treatment for minor shrapnel wounds. Twenty-seven different hospitals treated the injured.

As of yesterday, the commission said about 50 people were still hospitalized.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.