When the detonation of two pressure cooker bombs caught runners by surprise during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, killing three and injuring 264 others, Americans were shocked by the carnage that Monday afternoon and the intensive manhunt that followed. Many of us still do not know how to respond to such a catastrophe, much less know how to react within the first few minutes when help is needed most.
But for first responders like Joseph O’Hare, deputy superintendent of dispatch operations at Boston EMS, it was second nature.
“We knew almost immediately that something major had happened, watching the (television) cameras,” O’Hare said in an interview with EMS1.com, a news website tailored for emergency personnel. “Our people knew that the scene was dangerous, but they had to do what they needed to do.”
At the 12th annual “A Salute to the Real American Heroes,” O’Hare will share his story, as will Watertown Police Captain Raymond Dupuis, whose department captured one Boston marathon bombing suspect and killed the other, and Richard Raymond, CEO of Boston-based Armstrong Ambulance, which had a major role in supporting Boston EMS during the crisis.
“Be ready for the what if,” Raymond said in an interview with The Examiner. “It is good to prepare. Whether it’s the Boston Marathon or Fourth of July fireworks, we do a lot of preparedness. That preparedness trained us to get ready for this massive MCI (mass-casualty incident). When you have the opportunity to train for large-scale events, take full advantage of those potentials.”
Along with invaluable advice and first-hand experience shared by some of Boston’s finest emergency personnel, Lamar Institute of Technology Foundation will also honor local first responders and military personnel at the Thursday, Sept. 5 event starting at 6 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 3810 N. Major Drive in Beaumont. Tickets are $50 per individual and sponsorships are also available, ranging from a Bronze donation of $500 up to a Platinum donation of $20,000. Admission is free to active uniformed personnel and their spouses. Dinner will be provided by the Cooks 2 Doz. + Inc. and is sponsored by the Sabine Area Restaurant Association.
Proceeds will go to scholarships and equipment benefiting students of LIT’s emergency service programs.
“This is an opportunity to support students and to give them the education to become first responders. This is where it all starts,” said Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rod Carroll, who serves on the Salute Committee and is a member of the LIT Foundation Board of Directors. “When you dial 911 and you’re in need of an emergency intervention, whether it’s a house fire or a car accident … if you’ve just been robbed, these are the people that come. This is what we fund the students with that become our future heroes.”
“A Salute to the Real American Heroes” was created shortly after 9/11, Carrol said, and helps the LIT Foundation set up scholarships and endowments to pay for students to attend LIT.
LIT graduates make up a large percentage of emergency personnel in Southeast Texas, Carroll said.
“Dial 911 and tell them you don’t want anybody that went to the LIT academies to respond to your call, and nobody will show up,” he said. “Probably 99 percent of (first responders) in this area went to one of those academies — from the EMS to the firefighters to the police.”
Students enrolled in LIT’s Regional Police Academy, Regional Fire Academy (ranked No. 48 in the Top 90 “Fire Science Programs That Really Pay Off” on firescience. org), homeland security, emergency medical technology and criminal justice programs are trained how to prepare for the worst, which is crucial to everyday emergency operations, Carroll said.
“It’s so important to have well-trained individuals,” he said.
Raymond said he echoes Carroll’s opinion on the importance of training, adding that it is also crucial to have “a line of communication and support from administration at every level.”
Although there hasn’t been a terrorist attack like the one in Boston, here in Southeast Texas, Carroll said it is important to remain prepared for an MCI, citing the I-10 tragedy that occurred near Hampshire last November.
“How prepared do you think we were for the 500-car pileup that happened Thanksgiving Day?” Carroll asked. “You never know when it’s going to happen. You’re not going to have an immediate response to something that large, but I think we did a very good job of dealing with the situation. We prepare every day for what we do, and we prepare by training. LIT provides that training through its academies.”