WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- Emergency room doctors train for mass disasters like the Boston Bombing, but they are far from immune to the horror.
Last year, Leana Wen treated many of the victims at the ER at Mass General.She is now at George Washington here in DC.
"There is the life before, and there was a life after the marathon," says Dr. Wen. She was just about to get off her shift in the ER at Mass General in Boston when the bombs went off. "The call came just before three. And all we knew was there was a bomb that had gone off, and maybe many people had been injured, many people had died. We just didn't know."
Over years in the emergency room, Dr. Wen had seen hundreds of people with amputations and shrapnel injuries, but never all at once. "I remember that our first patient wasn't breathing, the next patients were missing limbs, arms and legs, everyone was covered with blood and soot and virtually unrecognizable."
Doctors were prepared, but also scared. She remembers one badly injured woman who kept asking about her family. "And she kept saying, 'Do you know what happened? Do you know where my husband is? Do you know where my children are?' And we had no answers to give her."
And Dr Wen found herself just as worried. She and her husband lived just a block from the bombing and the last she had heard from him was a text that he was headed to the finish line. "What kept going through my mind as we saw all the patients coming in was, could the next one be my husband?"
It turned out that both her husband and the patient's family were fine. "I was extremely relieved, but also really sad, because who was I to think that my family was okay, when all these other families were not."
The bombing left Dr. Wen with nightmares, but also faith. Every victim who made it to the hospital survived.
Dr. Wen thinks doctors in D.C. are just as prepared for mass casualties. She says one of the things that saved lives in Boston was tourniquets applied quickly by first responder's and citizens.