A Rhode Island state trooper who went to the aid of victims of the Boston Marathon bombings is speaking out publicly about his experience for the first time. The trooper rejects any suggestion that he’s a hero.
Trooper Roupen Bastajian has participated in five marathons. But the April 15th Boston Marathon was the first one he completed running all the way. He decided to compete because it was the 117th running of the Boston Marathon and 117 is his badge number.
Bastajian crossed the finish line in a little over four hours. Exhausted, he made his way to a medical tent for first aid. Four minutes later the first bomb exploded about 400 yards away.
“The first blast I thought it was some kind of ceremonial cannon of some sort. I looked around and I could read the people’s faces and everyone thought the same thing,” said Bastajian. “No one reacted in any way. But when the second one happened I kept saying ‘Are you kidding me, are you kidding me?’ I knew at that point it was some kind of terrorist attack.”
The exhaustion of the race was replaced with a rush of adrenalin. Without thinking twice, Bastajian ran to the area where the worst injuries had occurred. His first patient was a man with both legs severed and one of his arms smoking.
“There was another gentleman next to me and we grabbed some gauze and started applying tourniquets and using the gauze or mesh rolls and using that as a tourniquet,” he said. “And I remember grabbing him, looking at him and I said ‘Sir, you’re going to be all right.’ He shook his head. He could tell what was wrong with him but he knew he was all right.”
Another person he helped was a woman with a six-inch by two-inch gash in her leg.
“I asked her to kind of put her skin together as I wrapped it with the mesh and gauze. That’s all we had. And I carried her and put her on a wheelchair and she grabbed me and she says ‘Thank you so much’ with a calm voice,” said Bastajian.
Bastajian estimates he helped five to six people that day. He hasn’t met any of them, but would like to one day.
“I want to meet with them. I wanted to give that proper time for them. I just felt like the families needed their own time to recover and heal. Just the amount of stuff they’re going through is not something that’s going to be dealt with in a day or two,” he said. “They’re going to deal with this for the rest of their lives.”
Bastajian modestly notes that he was one of many first responders who rushed into the unknown that day. He rejects any suggestion that he’s a hero.
“I was just there. Someone said, you know, wrong place, wrong time, you did the right thing. I kind of like that statement,” he said. “I think every other trooper, every other police officer not only would do that but did do that. There were so many others that did exactly what I did so, I’m not a big fan of that.”
Bastajian is 38 years old and has been with the Rhode Island State Police for four years. He was one of five Rhode Island state troopers who ran the Boston Marathon, but was the only one closest to the blast to render service.
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