Even after telling her story what is likely dozens of times, University of New Mexico medical resident Danielle Deines still carries fresh images of the Boston Marathon bombings and the victims she helped.
UNM health sciences center chancellor Paul Roth on Friday honored Deines, a physician in the UNM Hospital pediatrics unit.
“Acts of heroism such as this really need to be shouted to the rooftops,” Roth said in a statement. “This is why we teach, and (it) speaks to the commitment of our medical professionals to serve the people. We are so proud of her and, on behalf of the all of us at the HSC, I offer her our heartfelt thanks.”
Deines, a first-year resident who got her medical degree from the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Va., had just finished running the marathon and was being treated for dehydration and leg cramps in a medical tent when the explosions went off.
She had mentioned to her nurse that she was a doctor, not long before the TVs in the tent confirmed there had a been a bombing. With an I.V. drip in her arm and unsure of where her boyfriend, a spectator, was, Deines told the nurse she wanted to help.
Marathon spectators with minimal injuries were walking in for help, but the gravity of the situation had not yet set in for Deines.
And then came the arrival of Jeff Bauman, subject of the iconic photo that showed him with a missing leg in a wheelchair being pushed by a man in a cowboy hat.
“His leg was all destroyed and I was like, ‘OK, this is real,’ ” Deines said Friday. “You definitely see some awful stuff in pediatrics that you never want to see happen to children, but I’ve never seen that before.”
For the next 1 1/2 hours, Deines helped in any way she could. She organized triage areas. Still in the dark about her boyfriend’s whereabouts, she discharged runners who were fine and wanted to leave the tent to find loved ones. When things got messy, she helped clean up.
And when people started asking her if she needed medical attention, she knew she had done all she could. Hardly any patients were left. “I didn’t want to be in the way,” she said.
Deines’ next mission was to find her boyfriend, an Albuquerque veterinarian who had watched her race.
“So the whole time I was in the tent, I was panicking because I was thinking that possibly my boyfriend had been standing on the street corner and I had no phone and there was no way to get a hold of him,” she said.
Phone service was down, so Deines walked to her nearby hotel room. Her boyfriend wasn’t there, but a friend who was also staying in the hotel told Deines he had posted on Facebook that he was fine.
The next few days are still a blur, Deines said, but 19 days later, she still hasn’t forgotten the large sheet a nurse hung with the label “morgue” on it.
“It’s like a little bit of a roller coaster – just being totally fine and not thinking about it for a while and then just getting angry about it or getting sad for the people who got hurt or, you know, the three people who died. It doesn’t take much to get me emotional about it,” Deines said.