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Osteopathic Physicians Respond to Crisis; Assist Victims of Boston Marathon Tragedy

The April 15 Boston Marathon bombings left an indelible mark on American history, claiming several lives and leaving hundreds of victims with physical and emotional injuries that, for many, will affect them for the remainder of their lives. The actions of individuals who provided aid to victims in the direct aftermath of this tragedy saved countless lives. AACOM recognizes two of these individuals, Martin S. Levine, DO, Associate Dean and Professor of Family Medicine at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine-New York (TouroCOM-NY) and Immediate Past President of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), and Danielle Deines, DO, for their selfless acts of bravery and medical professionalism in the face of a life-threatening crisis.

Dr. Martin S. Levine, a former marathon runner, has served for many years as Boston Marathon medical personnel. This year, he was providing routine post-race treatment to marathoners in the race’s primary athlete recovery area when the first of the two explosions occurred. Just minutes after the attack, the medical tent in which Dr. Levine was working in—an area typically reserved for massaging race-weary muscles and reviving dehydrated runners—was converted into an emergency medical site. After directing other on-site medical personnel to clear room in the tent for incoming victims, Dr. Levine ran toward the site of the first explosion in search of wounded runners and onlookers just as the second bomb exploded.

Dr. Danielle Deines, a 2012 graduate of Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia Campus (VCOM-VC), was a participant in the marathon that day and was receiving treatment for leg cramps in the finish line medical tent when the attacks occurred. Amidst an environment of mounting fear and confusion, Dr. Deines instantly transformed from patient to doctor, using her osteopathic medical training to provide assistance to those able to leave, and triaging incoming victims based on the severity of their injuries.

In many of his post-disaster interviews, Dr. Levine acknowledged the efforts of fellow doctors, nurses and EMS personnel in the area, and highlighted the preparedness of the Boston Marathon medical personnel as a point of strength in assisting victims. Because of the grueling nature of the race, medical teams working the marathon have adapted preparatory measures in recent years to account for the possibility of high volumes of injuries. This preparation, Dr. Levine noted, enabled medical workers to respond effectively when the attacks occurred. Dr. Levine also commented that he now plans to teach an anti-terrorism course at TouroCOM-NY.  

Dr. Deines attributed her response that day in part to specialized training she received in medical school. In her second year at VCOM-VC, Dr. Deines was required to complete a two-day Bioterrorism and Disaster Response Program. This comprehensive program provides students with expertise in disaster-related areas such as major disaster response, hospital planning, psychological response to trauma and post-disaster media relations.

Perhaps one lesson that can be pulled from the wreckage of the Boston Marathon bombings is the value of disaster preparedness training. VCOM-VC and other osteopathic medical colleges across the nation already are leading the way in this arena by offering courses such as the Bioterrorism and Disaster Response Program. While the future of this type of training in medical study is not certain, Dr. Levine and Dr. Deines’ stories illustrate the importance of equipping future physicians to respond effectively when catastrophe strikes, and also serve as a reminder of the dedication and resolve of the nation’s osteopathic physician workforce.

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April / May 2013
Vol. 7, No. 4 / 5