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Coping With Trauma After Marathon

MAHONING TOWNSHIP — As the investigation into the deadly Boston Marathon explosions continues, dozens of victims remain hospitalized.

More than 170 people were rushed to Boston area hospitals after two bombs sent metal shrapnel flying through the air Monday.

“We are all extremely sad. We are suffering emotionally from what happened to the people of Boston and many others, at the same time we can’t feel but proud because the medical community here at mass general responded in amazing way. Suffice it to say that some of the trauma group that happened to be outside the city jumped on planes immediately in order to come back and they did come back within hours,” said Dr. George Velmahos of Massacusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Michal Suk is the Chairman of Orthopedic Surgery and a trauma specialist at Geisinger near Danville.

He was training in a hospital in New York City on September 11th, 2001, and he’s done trauma surgeries in Haiti after a deadly earthquake.

Dr. Suk is also a graduate of Boston University.

He lived just blocks from where the explosions went off.

He has colleagues in Boston hospitals.

“I think the folks in Boston did a fantastic job, they have a triage system based on multiple hospitals within the city and were able care of a mass casualty situation in the city with literally hundreds of people injured,” said Dr. Suk.

The injuries after the marathon blasts have been compared to war wounds, with mostly lower body damage.

At least nine patients needed leg amputations.

“These amputations that they did were largely the worst kind the kind where you wake up one day, you wake up one morning and you’re totally fine and the next day you have no limb. The decision making behind that is very difficult,” said Dr. Suk.

Dr. Suk said he feels for the surgeons, some of them his colleagues, who had to make spilt second decisions to save lives.

He also said while the wounds will heal for most of the victims, the emotional damage could last for years or perhaps, the rest of their lives.

“The bigger issue is psychologial and that is the process of understanding not only why it happened and what happened but also adjusting and again from the shock of waking up one morning and being fine and then having an event and waking up and having a totally different life.”


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