First and foremost, my thoughts are with any and all who were impacted by the tragedy that occurred today. It is a horrible sadness and considering the Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon and attended by people worldwide – it is a tragedy for the globe and not just domestically. Please note that in no way are my comments and thoughts in this post meant to diminish the impact and terribleness of what has occurred, nor is it intended to belittle the pain and suffering of anyone impacted. I am only trying to make sense of things myself and using some of my inherent optimism (and sometimes denial) to do so. Sometimes you can calm your soul by sharing your thoughts. And this is my attempt to do so.
I have participated in some very large race events and have experienced the confusion and difficulty in finding friends and family post-race under normal circumstances. I cannot even begin to imagine the confusion and panic of trying to locate friends and family in a situation such as this. My heart hurts for runners still on the course who may or may not heard accurate information about events and who had to be stopped and/or diverted. The thought process that went through the heads of these runners had to have run the gamut from anger about running times and personal records being affected to shock to fear to so many other emotions. How do you even begin to process everything? And to process all that information on top of dealing with physical fatigue – many of these people were already pushing their body and mind to the limits. It doesn’t take much more to push you to the breaking point.
Which is another reason why it is so amazing so amazing to hear reports of runners who finished the race and then ran to hospitals to give blood. There are so many other amazing and kind acts taking place by people to help each other. I saw a twitter report of a man who invited 50-60 strangers into his home because authorities were telling people to get off the streets. This is a trying time for people in Boston and I hope everyone can bring some kindness to those in need.
I worked for a New England state emergency management agency for a time. As such, I know and understand some of the emergency and response plans that had to have been in place. The Boston Marathon is a massive event which requires an extreme amount of planning and coordination. As such, this is an event which surely had several contingencies and emergency plans in place. Additionally, race organizers, volunteers, and security staffing the event would all have specific protocols to follow in the event of various emergencies. I speak from experience when I say that the authorities in the Boston area including the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Boston PD) are good at what they do. Also, there are several facilities and agencies located in and around Boston that could provide further assistance if needed (I was once in Boston on Marathon Day for an emergency management meeting at FEMA). Furthermore, large races also have lots of medical staff along the course and especially near the finish for the participants. All these facts lead to the apparent response time of seconds to those injured. This terrible event occurred at a time and place where many trained people are/were available to help very quickly. I know this probably does not/would not seem like much to any who actually were injured. But it helps me to think they received attention as soon as it was needed.
You’ve probably noticed I have said nothing about who did this. It’s because I haven’t thought about it. My first thoughts are not about wild theories or assumptions about who and why. And that’s because that doesn’t and shouldn’t matter – especially to those of us not directly involved! Granted it matters to law enforcement immediately, but even they are (or at least should be) more concerned with giving immediate aid and attention to those who need it first and then after those unfortunate souls have attention they need secondarily securing the scene and evidence to answer the questions of who and why. Wild speculation about terrorism or potential suspects does not help anyone. For those that need to know who and why, you will most likely get that information eventually and from reliable sources. Don’t feed hate and prejudice by assuming something or anything you have no knowledge of. Just be compassionate for those who have been impacted (in both horrifying visible ways and in less visible or immediate ways).