A Former Boston Trauma Doctor Remembers The Marathon Bombing

Print icon

Dr. Jonathan Gates was doing paperwork in his office at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Trauma Center when his phone rang on the afternoon of April 15, 2013. The trauma program manager on the line, a spectator at the Boston Marathon finish line, told him there had been an explosion.

“I didn’t really believe it at first,” said Dr. Gates, now the chief of  surgery at Hartford Hospital. “But I decided to go to the emergency department and see what was going on. Once we got there, one or two patients had already arrived. When we realized what we were dealing with, we were all hands on deck.”

Dr. Gates’ team was ready. Between 2001 and 2013, it conducted more than 70 formal trainings in preparation for such an extraordinary incident.

“There’s a reason we work together with the same people every day,” Dr. Gates said. “Normal days are opportunities to train together for days that deviate from the norm. That’s what enabled us to have a good team in place and a system to handle the tragedy.”

Dr. Gates’ team treated more than 40 bombing victims, including many who required amputations and other extreme measures.

He recently brought his decades of experience to Hartford Hospital, where he plans to help bring a new level of sophistication to how health-care providers approach trauma care.

“For a long time, the only thing we looked at was mortality; the next question is morbidity,” Dr. Gates said. “We want to know not just if they survive, but what their quality of life will be after the injury. A system like Hartford HealthCare, with Hartford Hospital at the center, has the foundation in place to focus on that level of care. I came here to help build great teams on top of that strong foundation.”

Dr. Gates credits preparation and teamwork with helping him manage the chaos that day.

“Everybody did what they do best,” Dr. Gates said. “When you saw that in action it was the best of teamwork, the best of surgery, and the best of humanity coming together. It was gratifying to be a part of something like that.”


What's New

Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Fall Classic: Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Pumpkin anyone? It’s fall, which means it’s pumpkin season. Pumpkin is certainly an appropriate choice in a healthy diet. Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, potassium, fiber and antioxidants like beta-carotene. One cup cooked is only 49 calories, with 12 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and no fat....


Heart & Vascular Institute Has a New Home in the East

Because of the continued expansion of services, the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute has officially moved its Norwich office, formerly located on 164 Otrobando Ave., to a newly renovated 7,000-square-foot space at 111 Salem Turnpike in Norwich (the former Ames plaza).  The new center offers comprehensive and convenient outpatient...

EEE

Second EEE Death in State History As More Towns Report Infected Mosquitoes

The first human case of Eastern equine encephalitis of the season, only the second reported in Connecticut history, has produced a chorus of caution from public health officials, medical professions and local communities. The message: Protect yourself from mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, and limit outdoor activity in the twilight...

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention: When People Offering Help Actually Need It

Two recent high-profile suicide deaths of men who worked with those at-risk for suicide highlights the increased suicide rate for those who provide services and care. The importance or raising awareness in September, National Suicide Prevention Month, is highlighted by the deaths of Gregory Eells, the executive director of counseling...


How to Prevent a Suicide? Ask the ‘Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge’

As a California Highway Patrol Officer, Sgt. Kevin Briggs worked on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, often with suicidal people, but his own struggles with depression made his presentation Sept. 13 even more impactful at the seventh annual World Suicide Prevention Conference at Heublein Hall at Hartford Hospital....

A panel discussion at the World Suicide Prevention Day

Panel: Suicide Prevention Starts with Empathy, Building Connections

As part of the seventh Annual World Suicide Prevention Day Conference Sept. 13, Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network hosted a panel presentation about the role of healthcare providers in suicide prevention. The panel included Behavioral Health Network Physician-in-Chief John Santopietro; Sgt. Kevin Briggs, a retired California Highway Patrol officer and national speaker;...