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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Boston) - Chief Jimmy Hooley of Boston EMS told NECN Wednesday he feared the death toll could have been a lot higher than three following Monday's bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon. Asked if he was surprised at the low number of deaths, Hooley said, "Pleasantly so."
The blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard of Boston and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell of Medford, Mass. The third victim was Lu Lingzi. She was a graduate student at Boston University. More than 170 others were injured in the explosions.
Hooley praised his team's good training and said the dozens and dozens of personnel already stationed with equipment near the finish line of the Boston Marathon helped ensure an incredibly fast response.
"You always have to prepare for the worst," Hooley said of recent training exercises in which he and Boston EMS have participated, featuring several worst-case scenarios.
Hooley said that first responders had to race to figure out who were the most severely injured, and get them off-site as quickly as possible. Sometimes two or even three patients were in an ambulance, Hooley said, with a goal of not overwhelming hospitals.
"I cannot sing the praises higher for the EMS services," said Dr. Peter Burke of Boston Medical Center. "They were there, they triaged patients, they brought them to several different hospitals across the city to allow those hospitals to step up and take care of those patients."
Tufts Medical Center intensive care nurse Lindsay Martin told reporters Wednesday she was supposed to be going to the spa on her day off Monday. Instead, when she heard about the emergency, she rushed to work.
Martin said good collaboration between Tufts clinicians helped calm nerves through the crisis.
"I would compare it to a switch that sort of flips; a job has to be done," Martin said. "I don't think there's anything in your training that can prepare you for what everyone saw."
Many in Boston took note of how some unlikely people, including ones with little medical training, emerged as first responders, of sorts.
Former New England Patriots offensive guard Joe Andruzzi is among that group. He was at the finish line and helped injured patients. He declined NECN's request for an on-camera interview Wednesday.
In a written statement, Andruzzi told NECN he instead wants people to focus on the EMTs, police officers, runners, and others who helped strangers injured by the bombs. Those people are the real heroes, Andruzzi said.