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Doctor from Bolingbrook was on front line of Boston bombing

Jocelyn Hirschman

Jocelyn Hirschman

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Updated: May 18, 2013 6:50AM



At times amid the screams and the crying and the blood at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Dr. Jocelyn Hirschman said she felt sick at seeing the horror unfolding before her eyes, but she continued to bandage and give fluids to the wounded and tried to comfort them and their families.

“I felt that it was a such a tragedy to see what was happening to people,” she said Tuesday. “People’s lives were irrevocably changed, there were now people who don’t have legs, family members who were lost, there certainly was an emotional side of it.”

Hirschman, 40, a Bolingbrook native, was one of many people with ties to the Chicago area caught up in the carnage. Another, Beth Roche, of Highland, Ind., suffered serious leg injuries when explosions ripped through the crowd of spectators. She had just watched her daughter, Rebecca, cross the finish line.

Hirschman, who graduated from Northwestern University’s medical school, left Chicago three years ago for a residency in family medicine at a Boston-area hospital where she remains.

She spent most of the race in a medical tent near the finish line treating runners with muscle cramps, nausea and dehydration.

When the explosions hit, Hirschman emerged from her tent into “a war zone.”

Images seared into her memory include: “An older woman who was missing one of her legs, she was so calm. I’m sure she was in shock but she was so stoic through it all. A boy around five, with shrapnel in his leg, he was so brave and calm.”

Then it was back to the tent, where improvised hanging bedsheets separated the different levels of trauma victims as they were stabilized and prepared for transport to hospitals.

“I want to make some sort of sense why a tragedy like this would happen,” Hirschman said in a phone interview. “These people did not deserve any of this.”

Beth Roche, of Highland, appeared to be the only area resident injured in the bombings. She underwent surgery Tuesday at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. “It didn’t look good going in, but coming out it looks like she’ll be fine and immobilized for eight to nine weeks,” said a friend, Wally Richardson.

Kim Henry, a realtor from River Forest, was 50 feet from the finish line when the second bomb went off. “There was smoke, and I saw bodies, two bodies, laying in black smoke, in the street. It was just mayhem,” she recalled.

Later, stranded from her belongings in the lobby of a Sheraton Hotel, a man visiting from Hong Kong pressed $100 into Henry’s hand. He gave her his business card when she insisted on repaying him.

“I’m overwhelmed by the acts of love and support I received,” she said.

Contributing: Bill Dwyer and Carole Carlson



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