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Lessons Learned From the Boston Marathon Bombing Victim Services Program

NCJ Number
Clinical Social Work Journal Volume: 45 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2017 Pages: 111-123
A. Naturale
Date Published
June 2017
13 pages
This article shares what is currently known about traumatic stress reactions related to human- caused, mass-violence events; and it provides program details, lessons learned, and recommendations from the Boston Marathon Bombing Victim Assistance program.
The Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013 involved the detonation of pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people died at the scene and more than 200 others required medical attention. Many survivors received serious injuries including head injuries, hearing loss and severed limbs as a direct result of the blasts and 14 survivors required amputations. The media reports included graphic images of severely injured runners and spectators that were shown repeatedly and continuously for months thereafter. This intentional, human caused mass violence at an event attended by hundreds of thousands and accompanied by graphic, gruesome, and extensive media exposure exacerbated the behavioral health risks in the affected community as well as those who observed the events in the media. The Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance provided an immediate response and continues to provide victim assistance, behavioral health counseling and other supports through a Department of Justice/Office for Victims of Crime Antiterrorism Emergency Assistance Program grant to help those most affected. Many lessons were learned about the need for preparation, close working relationships and an understanding of the powerful psychological impact of terrorist and mass violence events. This article shares what we currently know about traumatic stress reactions related to human caused mass violence events and provides program details, lessons learned and recommendations from the Marathon Bombing Victim Assistance program.