On Monday, April 15, the 117-year-old Boston Marathon was in full swing. Two hours after the winners crossed the finish line at 2:50 p.m., two explosives went off 12 seconds apart along Boylston Street that dramatically changed the mood and setting of the joyous event.
To date, the explosives have taken three lives and injured more than 186 people. As usual, there was a heavy Springfield College presence at perhaps the state’s most iconic athletic event. One member of our community who was there was Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Dawn Roberts.
Roberts, an avid marathon runner, has run the Boston Marathon 12 times. This past Monday was nothing different.
“It’s a terrific race,” Roberts said. “I don’t want to taint a great day and a great event.”
Roberts was running in the marathon along with 125 other runners supporting Griffin’s Friends Charity, which is a charity run through Baystate Medical Center that supports kids with cancer.
“We had just finished and we were getting our blankets and taking some pictures. We were about 200 yards away and we heard a huge bang. We turned around and saw a lot of smoke and the ground was shaking. We knew right away that something really bad had happened. We heard the second one and we had to get away from there,” Roberts explained.
“We all stuck together and got out as quickly as we could. We had planned to regroup anyway. It quickly turned from people were very calm and knew something was wrong, but then it kind of got a little chaotic.”
Roberts credits her group’s quick thinking and calm disposition for getting everyone to the Boston Common safe and sound.
Even though this terrible event occurred, Roberts said she’ll remember the good over the bad the most.
“This horrible thing happened, but a lot of good happened too. Everyone was helping everyone else. Strangers were giving us their cell phones to get in touch with our families. I had two friends who were really cold and stopped at [mile] 25 and two college kids from BU took off their coats and said, ‘Take them.’ Stuff like that was just awesome. In all of the bad there was lots and lots of people helping, and that’s what I’m going to remember,” Roberts said.
The marathon was also unforgettable for several Springfield College community members, including five senior Athletic Training majors, along with their supervisor, Tom Dodge. They were working the medical tents at the finish line where the bombs went off.
Each year the Athletic Training department sends a group of senior ATs to work the medical tents at the Boston Marathon, and this year was no different.
According to Mary Barnum, the director of the Athletic Training program, the group of students were there as part of the immediate response team that assisted at the site of the explosions.
“[They transported] victims to the medical tent and [provided] care for victims in the medical tent,” Barnum said.
“Within 15 minutes of the explosion, Springfield College Campus Security was in phone contact with our faculty member [Dodge] and had verified the status of all our students. This information was conveyed immediately to key campus administrators. Together with athletic trainers and athletic training students from Boston, South Carolina and Louisiana State Universities, our group made their way on foot to Boston University where they were able to regroup. We are very thankful to the athletic training staff at Boston University who took care of our group and made arrangements for them to be transported out of Boston and to their van, which was located at the Riverside T stop,” Barnum continued.
None of the students were injured, and all returned back to campus safely Monday night.
“We are grateful to all these individuals and departments as well as to Dr. Tracey Matthews, department chair, and Dean Redmond, for their immediate response and continued support. We are proud of our faculty and students, who demonstrated outstanding service to humanity during this crisis,” Barnum said.
Both Roberts and the AT crew are safe and sound back in Springfield, and while of course they are shaken, they are grateful and thankful to be here.
As of now no arrests have been made concerning the event, but according to several news sources, significant progress has been made in the investigation.