I had just finished catching up on things Monday evening and was closing open windows on my computer when I glanced at one of my feeds and caught the news that there had been a terrorist attack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. When I got into my car to start my commute home I turned on the radio to get more information. Two bombs exploded, three deaths and some 130 wounded.
My emotions cycled between relief at the modest death toll, anger at the perpetrator(s), dismay and that awful powerless fatalism that perhaps we all feel in the face of this insidious form of warfare against, in my humble opinion, modern civil society, the rule of law (rather than the gun), religious freedom and the liberty our democratic republic offers us.
As I continued to listen to the reports on TV, later that evening and then on the radio during my commute to work Tuesday, pundits repeated that much like our collective experience in the wake of 9/11, we are united by this event and that we are “All Bostonians Now.” As I pondered the significance of this, I listened to reports, information gleaned from witnesses and first responders.
One string of commentary in particular caught my attention. One commentator attributed the low death toll to the fact that present at the scene were hundreds of physicians, nurses and similar health care professionals who sprang to immediate action, providing first aid and delivering stabilizing trauma care virtually within minutes. I listened on and in one of the official first press conferences, I heard (I believe) the mayor of Boston acknowledge and praise the extremely professional response by the hospitals and the doctors and nurses in the trauma care facilities.
As I pondered the significance of that, I pictured in my mind these professionals at work, triaging patients, cleaning wounds, prepping victims for surgery and administering everything from pain medications to antibiotics.
Then it kind of hit me; the pharmaceutical industry was right there too. Not only were the physicians, nurses and EMTs intervening but “we” as in the collective activities of those involved in the development and production of pharmaceuticals were on the scene responding to the tragedy as well.
I am certainly not diminishing the efforts of the medical community; I’m just trying to point out that their life-saving efforts were made all the more effective through the work the pharmaceutical industry does every day.
Think about all the pharmaceutical therapies that are available to treat the wounds physical and otherwise, caused by those bombs. From the traditional opiates to treat pain and shock, anesthetics for surgeries, the antibiotics to prevent infection, saline to shore up blood loss and more; regardless, the list is a long one. And it will continue to grow. A quick look at pharmaceuticals being developed to treat Traumatic Brain Injury for example, point to the industry’s ongoing fight to mend (among other things) what terrorism aims to break: both our bodies and our minds.
But we aren’t going to let them win because there will always be more good people then there are bad. I’m willing to bet there were many hundreds of people from the pharmaceutical industry involved in the Boston Marathon one way or the other. The region’s concentration of professionals serving the industry is well known. But even if you are working in the Illinois, out in California, or Atlanta (anywhere pharmaceuticals are made) you were there. You are a first responder too, and we are all Bostonians now.
Steven E. Kuehn