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Simmons Community Serves Boston, Moves Forward After Marathon Tragedy

(May 10, 2013) -- On April 15, Shannon Curran '13, a nursing major, was with her friends watching the Boston Marathon one mile away from the finish line.

"When we heard a police officer yell to another about a bomb, the crowd grew quiet and the echo of the sirens seemed much louder," she recalls.

The Simmons community, including students, alumnae/i, faculty, and staff, responded to the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent events in a variety of meaningful ways, demonstrating unity, strength, and compassion. Many were at the Marathon finish line, either as observers, volunteers, or helpers in the first aid tents, while others were in area hospitals which received victims.

For the past ten years, Linda Moniz, associate professor of practice in nursing, has volunteered as a nurse with the Boston Athletic Association in the medical tent, and this year was no different.

"The weather was picture perfect," Moniz says. "For most of the day, the tent was quiet – there weren't any unusual issues with the athletes."

That all changed at 2:51 p.m. Moniz heard a blast go off, and shortly after, an announcer in the tent asked medical volunteers to clear out space to make room for those with serious injuries.

"We started working right away on the most seriously injured, taking care of everyone calmly. It wasn't chaotic at all, though there were police and dogs inside, making sure that there weren't any threats inside the tent," says Moniz. "It was strangely quiet in the tent – people with incredibly painful injuries were just in too much shock. Within 20 minutes, all the injured were being treated at area hospitals."

Judi Cullinane, a professor of nursing at Simmons, was working at Floating Hospital for Children – Tufts Medical Center, when patients from the Marathon began to arrive; as an organization, they had to keep composure and secure the safety of all. As medical staff went to work on patients, FBI agents were wandering around, investigating a bomb threat at the hospital. But Cullinane describes the work of the health care professionals and law enforcement officers as exemplary.

"Within an hour, every single patient was accounted for," Cullinane says. "This entire tragedy was an example of what the health care profession should be. I recently read The Florence Prescription, and it provides an excellent description of nursing: commitment, engagement, passion, intuition, stewardship, belonging, fellowship, and pride. I saw all of those qualities on display during this crisis." In the classroom later that week, Cullinane worked to impart to her students the importance of those traits. "I want them to remember why they are going into this field."

Nursing major Emily Sullivan '13 recalls her experiences in the classroom in the days after the bombing.

"The faculty in our senior leadership class gave us time for reflection and sharing. We were able to hear from our professors, who were helping in a medical way, and students were able to share their experiences as volunteers and spectators," says Sullivan. She was also precepting with a nurse at a local hospital where a number of patients from the Marathon bombing were being treated.  

"I was so grateful that I was able to contribute," she says. "It may have been small, but I'm happy that I had the opportunity to give in the best way I could."

President Drinan addressed the Simmons community on April 24, saying, "As we all try to come to terms with what has happened and move forward, we must do so guided by the values that are our traditions, which include a collective investment in community, and collaboration for the common good."

Class of 2013 President Shannon Curran added, "Among all things, a theme that arose was the idea that good will always outweigh evil."

When Moniz was asked if she will return as a volunteer with the Boston Athletic Association for an 11th year, she says, "Oh yes, I'll do it again. We have to show that we can come back, and come back strong. I'll be there."

 GSLIS alumnae/i archivists for the City of Boston carefully remove some of the delicate memorial items before impending rain to be documented and stored.
GSLIS alumnae/i archivists for the City of Boston carefully remove some of the delicate memorial items before impending rain to be documented and stored.
(Photo courtesy of the GSLIS Facebook page. More photos available on their page.)


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