Nothing was unusual about the injuries Dr. Kim Kilby saw steadily trickling into the Boston Marathon's medical tent Monday afternoon.
The Albany Medical Center physician was assessing patients as they entered and directing them to the appropriate area of the sprawling tent set up near the finish line on Boylston Street. Some were suffering from dehydration while others were experiencing mild hypothermia —all conditions that are common for the storied 26.2-mile race each spring.
Kilby was hoping to bring back some practical experience to help improve operations at the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon, a race where she serves as medical director. Instead, she got a first-hand look at how a field trauma unit operates during a mass casualty incident.
"The blast went off and sort of stopped everyone in their tracks," she recalled of the first bomb. "There was smoke — you could smell it — and then people just started running."
Someone doing announcements in the tent calmly asked physicians to help out at the blast site and another about a block away. Kilby grabbed a wheelchair and darted toward Boylston Street.
The first patient she saw was a gravely wounded woman, dazed from the explosion and bleeding profusely; a marathon runner had already placed a belt around one of her badly injured legs as a tourniquet. Kilby, still unaware of what had transpired, helped the woman into the chair and rushed her back to the medical tent.
By the time Kilby returned to the tent, it had been sectioned off so the most critical injuries could receive the necessary attention from the medical staff on hand. All the medical personnel in the tent were working in unison, giving the care they could provide and then getting bomb victims loaded into ambulances.
Everything happened so fast. Kilby and Racheal Klein, a third-year student at Albany Medical College, helped treat more than a half-dozen victims from the bombing over the course of less than two hours.
Many more poured through the tent during the chaotic moments after the explosions. But the staffing in the tent was ample and the level of expertise among the physicians was sufficient.
"Everybody just did what they needed to do," Kilby said. "As chaotic as everything sounds, I'd say it was extremely well-coordinated. There were just the right people at the site of the problem to respond."
Not that Kilby specializes in traumatic injuries. Formerly a family practitioner, she now specializes in bariatrics and clinical nutrition at Albany Med.
"I'm a family doctor," she said. "I'm usually used to a calm outpatient setting."
But she offered a trained hand during a time when many were needed. And the response likely saved lives.
Of the more than 170 people injured during the blast, only three have died — a remarkable figure considering the carnage. Many of the injured suffered horrific wounds from the bomb shrapnel, including some who suffered amputated limbs.
"The name of the game yesterday was triage and transport immediately," Barbara Ferrer, health commissioner for the city of Boston told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. "From my perspective, the medical response was unbelievable."
Kilby was also among the many people captured in photographs and videos emerging from the bombings Monday. Another was James Plourde, a Boston firefighter and native of Colonie, who was photographed carrying a badly injured girl in the immediate aftermath of the explosions.
Peter Plourde wasn't sure if his son was on duty when he heard of the bombings late Monday afternoon. He tried sending text messages and started to worry when there was no response.
"It took my breath away," he said.
The distraught father started flipping through the television news channels for information about the blast. And that's when he caught a glimpse of his son in a picture.
James Plourde, who graduated from Siena College in 2000, had originally moved to Boston become a teacher. Instead, he became an emergency medical service worker and eventually used the experience to get a job as a city firefighter.
Peter Plourde said his son isn't sure of the fate of the girl he pulled from the blast, but he said watching his said respond in the aftermath of such a tragedy has become a source of pride.
"Seeing him do what he was trained to was great," he said.
Local martial arts instructor ’lucky’
Joe Hasan, 32, of Latham, was at the marathon with family and friends.
“We had about a half-dozen friends we were there to watch and cheer for,” Hasan said in an email message. “Luckily, we decided that our last viewing spot was going to be between miles 25 and 26. We had contemplated going towards the finish, but found a great spot to watch from a little past mile 25, and so decided not to fight crowds closer to the finish.
“We were very lucky,” Hasan added, “because we were watching for runners who would finish between 3:30 and 4:15 p.m. — so had we gone to the finish area, we would’ve been right there for the blasts.”
Once the explosions occurred, Hasan — owner and head instructor at Pil Sung Taekwondo in Guilderland — saw the chaos.
“It was hectic, police overload, helicopters, ambulances, trains were shut down,” he said. “Taxis were either full or refused to pick people up. We had parked well outside of the city and were relying on the ‘T’ train to get in and out. Ended up having to hitchhike a ride out with a guy who happened to stop and give us a ride back to my truck.”
Reporter Jeff Wilkin contributed to this report.