What jumped out at veteran long-distance runner Garth Roberts as he watched a news video of the immediate aftermath of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing was the uncommon valor of the first responders.
He had flicked on his computer after learning from a friend that something horrendous had happened at the finish line. Roberts, who operates the American Hotel in Sharon Springs with his husband, Doug Plummer, mayor of the village, had run in seven marathons himself, though he had never competed in Boston’s 26.2-mile course, the world’s oldest marathon.
The images that streamed across his monitor on April 15, 2013 were surreal, gripping him in a way he had not felt since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he said in an interview Thursday.
And so much was unknown in those initial minutes. Could more bombs be set to explode? Who would target innocents at a historic sporting event on Patriot’s Day, a Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the first battles of the American Revolutionary War?
As those who escaped injury bolted from the scene, here were these members of Boston Emergency Medical Services, police officers and firefighters running into the vortex of danger, scrambling to attend to the medical needs of those left bleeding and maimed, putting duty to serve before their own personal safety with human carnage all around them.
“It inspired me to start thinking of what I might be able to do to help Boston heal,” Roberts said.
It is this admiration for the courage of those first responders — many of whom he has since gotten to know personally — that is prompting him to volunteer his day Monday inside a medical tent at the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon finish line.
He will be assisting Boston EMS medics just yards away from where three spectators — including an 8-year-old boy watching the runners with his family — were killed by bombs planted inside pressure cookers encased in abandoned backpacks. Sixteen people lost limbs that day. A total of 264 people suffered varying degrees of injury.