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Donna Foley, Boston nurse, says ‘ordinary people’ were heroic

A former University of Massachusetts Amherst student who now lives in Roslindale and works as a nurse at Tufts Medical Center, said there were runners who ripped off their shirts to fashion tourniquets for the injured only moments after completing a 26-mile run.

“Those people saved lives,” she said.

Foley said that only 2.5 percent of the people who were injured in Monday’s dual blasts died from those injuries and that figure likely would have been much higher if people didn’t rush back toward the chaos and provide aid.

“People who reacted like that is why they’re alive,” she said.

Foley said 17 people injured in the bombings were transported to Tufts Medical Center for treatment. Nine went into surgery right away and six people were still recovering there as of Friday afternoon.

Most of their injuries are burns and injuries to their legs because the bombs were on the ground when they were detonated, she said.

Most of the patients are in their 20s, she said, and while their physical injuries will heal in time, their emotional trauma will likely linger much longer.

Foley said there are still patients waking up in the middle of the night screaming from nightmares caused by the attack.

Great efforts were taken to keep televisions and radios off in areas where bombing victims were still recovering to try to prevent them from hearing about or seeing information about the manhunt and police pursuit of the two suspects for fear it would trigger more anxiety and trauma.

“They all have post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said. “It’s bad.”

Foley, who has been a registered nurse since 1994 and spent her entire career in Boston, said she hasn’t seen a mass casualty event like Monday’s attack in the city in all of that time.

She said hospital staff throughout the city were called in and on standby to receive casualties from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but those casualties never arrived, either because the recovered victims had already died or survivors were transported to closer hospitals.

“This is the first time Boston has ever had something like this,” she said.

She said the mood among her colleagues in the days following the attacks was one of fear and utter rage.

“There’s a whole lot of anger running around here,” she said. “Everyone in the city is angry.”

“How dare you come into our city and do this?” she asked.

Foley praised the “stellar job” done by the emergency room staff at the hospital.

“I’m really proud to have worked with some of them and call them my friends,” she said.

Many who are recovering from surgery have had metal pins and rods inserted into their legs to help repair the injuries from the blasts and shrapnel.

Even those who survived still have a long period of physical and emotional recovery ahead of them, Foley said. “And, we’ll get there,” she said.

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