UMass doctor aids Boston bombing victims on scene

By Samara Abramson

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

Last Monday, Dr. Pierre Rouzier faced the idea of never seeing his family again as he ran into the smoke of two detonated bombs on Bolyston Street in Boston.

“There’s a bomb. I’m going at it. Say prayers,” Rouzier said he wrote in a text message to his wife and two children.

Rouzier, a University Health Services doctor at the University of Massachusetts, was working in the main medical tent at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last Monday, expecting to be of assistance to runners suffering from dehydration or other minor health issues. Then, suddenly, two explosives detonated, ultimately, killing three and injuring nearly 200 people, and Rouzier’s first instinct was to help the victims.

Rouzier held a discussion Thursday night in Mahar Auditorium to share his story and help those affected by the events of last week.

“I ran up, and there were 20 Kevin Ware’s on the ground,” said Rouzier, referring to a Louisville Cardinals basketball player who broke his leg in the 2013 NCAA tournament in March.

Rouzier asked the head of EMS what he could do to help, and she told him to just make sure everyone had tourniquets on.

A young girl with a broken, exposed leg was just one of the people Rouzier helped. With a poster and slats of wood he found on the ground, Rouzier created a splint for her leg.

“My job at the marathon typically is to stand in front of the tent, so I thought, ‘Where am I most valuable?’” Rouzier said.

This was the fifth time Rouzier, who has specialized in sports medicine for over 16 years, volunteered at the Boston Marathon, saying, “It’s kind of the pandemonium that I love.”

Rouzier, who has worked in emergency rooms in the past, said that he gets a rush of excitement in emergencies.

As Rouzier was making a splint for a 30-year-old woman’s leg, she tapped him and said, “I’m gonna die right here, right now and no one’s gonna know where I am.”

“That’s when it became personal for me and everybody else just became a bunch of limbs we were trying to save. I held her hand and I looked her in the eye and I said, ‘You are not gonna die,’” Rouzier said.

The woman had a bit of humor in her voice when she spoke to Rouzier, which he said he found interesting.

“Where’s my bag?” she asked Rouzier as she was being rolled away on a stretcher. Rouzier found her bag and her cell phone lying on the ground and gave them to her.

“What’s killing me is that I was on this ‘mechanical pilot’ so I didn’t say, ‘Hi, I’m Dr. Rouzier. Nice to meet you,’” Rouzier said. He is working on tracking down this woman and the family of the young girl he helped so that he can get a chance to introduce himself.

When Rouzier realized he was one of the last people at the scene, he heard someone with a megaphone telling people to evacuate in case there was another device.

“I thought, ‘I’m not getting blown up by myself,’ So I went back to the tent to see if I could help over there,” he said. Later, the medical tent was evacuated so officials could sweep the area.

After leaving Boylston Street, Rouzier and some friends wandered around Boston Commons looking for others to help.

“Why are we doing this?” a friend asked him. Rouzier told him that if they didn’t, they would have regretted it later.

“It was a time warp,” said Rouzier. “I don’t know if it was just a couple minutes or a couple hours.”

Although he was deeply affected by the bombings, Rouzier is glad he was there and plans on volunteering at next year’s marathon.

“There’s a sign on my wall that says, ‘If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ and I truly love my job,” he said.

Samara Abramson can be reached at [email protected]