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Press Conference from Mass General; Aftermath of the Boston Bombings; Interviews with Eyewitnesses; Press Conference from Brigham & Women's Hospital

Aired April 16, 2013 - 10:30   ET


UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: And that is the case. We have patients here who have relatives that have been admitted to other Boston hospitals.

REPORTER: When are you planning for another update?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Do we have another update planned?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As we get new information. There's not a set time right now, but as we get more information (INAUDIBLE).

REPORTER: Dr. George, can you spell your name for us? Say it for us and spell it.


REPROTER: Thank you.

REPORTER: What's your title?

VELMAHOS: Chief of Trauma Surgery at Mass General.

REPORTER: Thank you, Doctor, very much.

VELMAHOS: Thank you.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so we're coming out of this press conference now at Mass. General. A lot of information to pull out here for you. Two developing aspects to this story, the investigation. We just heard that press conference.

Now the people who are still fighting for their lives and that is not an exaggeration as we've been saying to you all along. 176 casualties that number of injuries increased, confirmed by the doctors at Mass. General; 17 critical still.

Now, what does that mean? It can mean a lot of different things. We know that people are sedated because of their pain so that their mental injuries are not now known. So there's an unknown factor in that. That with such tremendous blood lost there is fear of organ failure. They have done what they can to minimize that exposure, but it's unsure when asked if whether or not he could say that no one else is in threat of dying. The doctor said it's too soon to tell. He feels good about what they've done, that they've done everything they can. Nobody wants to overdramatize this situation. It benefits from no hype to be sure.

But to remember the urgency, it's not over; people are still fighting. Many families had more than one person affected by this. Some are in different hospitals. Imagine this strain on a family trying to figure out who is in which hospital, what the nature of the injuries are.

Something else that came out that's interesting, the doctor who has experience with explosives says that he believes that the shrapnel injuries he's seen were not merely frack, things that are picked up from surrounding objects and areas and put into bodies. He believes they're in the bomb himself. Why does he believe that? He's seeing 10, 20, 30, 40 he says of pieces of shrapnel of particulate matter he believes they were in the bomb.

He also says something that we have to keep close care on here, that these trauma centers as great as they are, have never seen anything like this in volume or severity. He says he's also never seen a response like this either, that it amazed him how the teams came together, with exhaustion.

He told the story of a physician who finished the race, went into the hospital to save lives. That's the kind of dedication and resilience that mattered on the ground yesterday and should define the Boston Marathon and these bombings -- these attacks for us going forward.

There is more information to be had. When we come back after the break we just heard the injuries described, the current battles. We will talk to someone who lived through that explosion, was knocked down by it but did live to tell the story, will tell us what it was like to be on the scene, when we come back.


CUOMO: Welcome to the CNN audience in the country and everywhere else. I'm Chris Cuomo here in Boston. We are monitoring the attacks at the Boston Marathon. We just had press conferences where officials renewed their interest and their request for video and pictures from anybody who was here. They need it, they want it, go to the CNN Web site, we'll put up help numbers that they are putting there, help lines for tips and any videos that you can offer.

Also just came off a press conference at the hospital where we learned that people are still on the fight, may still be at risk for their lives there. So the situation is far from over. So we go from the injuries that are being dealt with to the people who witnessed them and lived through it.

I'm here with Pamela Brown. Pam, you've been here the whole time reporting it out. What have you heard from people who made it through and tell the story now?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we just spoke to a witness whose name is Michael Murphy. He was visiting here from Canada watching his son in the marathon. Yesterday he was right across the street from where the second explosion happened.

He said he witnessed so many horrific things, but what has left an indelible mark, the image that stayed with him was a little boy that he saw on the ground right after that second explosion, after hearing reports of the death of eight-year-old Martin Richard, he believed that little boy that he saw may have been him.


MICHAEL MURPHY, WITNESS: When you're in such shock, you don't know really what you're seeing and I thought I saw a child laying to the left. My wife didn't see that, as she later told me and I thought perhaps it was clothing or perhaps it was someone's limb because there was a man there missing a limb. But it -- it was surreal and it was -- whoever did it was just the embodiment of evil. It's unbelievable.

BROWN: And you said the bombs were on the ground rather than being --

MURPHY: There's no question those bombs were in knapsacks or something on the ground because the woman whose clothing was melting into her skin, it was on her legs. The man lost a leg. Now that if that was the child, the child was small.

We would have been hit 50 feet away across the street if the bombs were higher. The bomb to the right, 75 yards away, nobody really knew what it was. There was a -- everybody is kind of kept going on for a few seconds.

But the one in the front of us at Starbucks, when that happened there was no doubt, within a second, everybody was running and screaming.

BROWN: What was going through your mind in that moment?

MURPHY: We didn't know how many bombs there were. I thought that perhaps there were more bombs because there had been two and I was afraid there might be some on our side. And I wanted to get my wife out of there. She wanted to get down into the street because Timothy, our son, was due, as we thought, to cross at that time. And we didn't know if there were other bombs up the street.

We couldn't -- we finally got a hold of him two hours later. But we were so excited to be here to the marathon to see our son run, and it's a -- it's a war zone.

BROWN: Is there anything that sort of surprised you? You said you were in such shock you kind of had a different reaction than you might suspect you would in a situation like this.

MURPHY: I didn't think that I would be calm. And I wasn't calm I was just in complete shock. When you see bodies around you and limbs, you think in advance that you're going to be just -- you'll melt down, but you -- you really -- you're thinking, trying to move people out of there. And I tried to get my wife out of there, but I suppose to her credit she immediately wanted to go down into the street. But you're caught in a dilemma because you know it's terrorism, you're wondering if there's a third bomb to take out first responders and people that are helping, but it -- you know this was -- this was designed to maim and kill, and it did.


BROWN: What's interesting, Chris, he also said that going through the experience yesterday brought back memories of 9/11. He says public sporting events, large public gatherings will never be the same, just as air travel hasn't been the same since 9/11.

CUOMO: You see the confusion even in just one family. What do we do, where is our son, should we stay, should we go?

BROWN: That's what's so interesting here. He said, you -- you think maybe you'll act a certain way when you're in a situation like that, but his wife's first instinct was, I want to go find my son. And he was trying to pull her back but realized later that was probably the right thing to do.

CUOMO: It's interesting how many people dealt with it in terms of, oh, maybe it's a celebration and that confusion kept them calm. And those who knew exactly what it was and still found the poise.

Pam, thank you very much. We're going to be hearing stories like this for a long time and they are important to help shape the understanding of what happened here.

We're going to go now to Tina Husted, she is the wife of the Secretary of State of Ohio, she was also a runner here in the Boston marathon. Remember it's not just about Boston. Just about every state is represented, about 100 countries, certainly Ohio.

Tina, thank you for joining us. You're running the race, you're tired, you're about to finish. What happens?

TINA HUSTED, FINISHED BOSTON MARATHON: Well, you know, if you've never run a marathon, you just -- you're just completely exhausted. You've put every ounce of energy into this.

So you know fortunately I was done, I had been done for a few hours, but we were waiting in a van about a block away for some other runners that were in our group and we were sitting there. And all of a sudden we heard this incredibly loud boom and I said to the lady sitting next to me, I said that sounded like a bomb. And she said, yes, it sure did.

So we waited for a bit and probably two or three minutes later, you know, mass chaos ensued and people started running from the scene. And then all of the EMS trucks and vans and vehicles started flooding the area. And it was a big traffic jam and obviously people were just very nervous and worried about what was going on. We didn't realize it was a bomb initially until we were able to -- to confirm that with some other people. CUOMO: You make an important point, a distinction that matters here, Tina. You have different types of runners in this race. You're what they call an elite runner. You finished very early on. This happened at the 4:09 mark. You had been done.

So you have two very different experiences, people who are still out there, kind of in their own world of mental and physical exhaustion and then you who is decompressing and yet you're kind of pinned in, right? Your options of what to do and where to go not easy right then, were they?

HUSTED: No, they weren't. And my immediate thought was obviously for the -- for the people that were close to the site. And they're -- if you've never been to the Boston Marathon, it is -- there are a lot of people in a very small, confined area, and my -- my -- fortunately my family was not there.

And my immediate thought was I want to get away from here because, as your previous person had mentioned, you're worried that there are other bombs in the area. And you just want to get away and get back to your family and get to safety.

CUOMO: What did you see in terms of the response of people around to help those who were in need? Really seems to set this incident apart.

HUSTED: Well, I -- one of the -- one of the best parts about this as you've heard many times is the medical support at that race is incredible. I mean, as soon as you finish the race there are -- there's a very large medical tent. And many stops along the race as well.

So as a matter of fact, when I finished, I -- I was having a difficult time walking, I was a little dehydrated and I actually utilized one of the EMS golf carts. And I was thinking to myself, boy, these people probably are pretty bored today because there wasn't a lot of activity when I was with them. And I'm sure they felt much differently a couple of hours later.

CUOMO: All right Tina. Thank you so much. I'm happy that you got to finish the race.


CUOMO: So many did not. You're home now, right? Your family knows you're safe. You know they're safe.

HUSTED: Yes. Yes.

CUOMO: Thank you for sharing your story with us, and we wish you well going forward.

HUSTED: Sure. Thank you.

CUOMO: Tina Husted from Ohio, the wife of the Secretary of State. She finished the race earlier. Remember, this happened at 4:09, four hours nine minutes in. That's when the widest swath of runners, the regular runners, are going to be coming through.

Did this person know that, whoever planted this bomb? Was this the right timing, the right place, one of the most congested corners? These are questions that are fueling the investigation.

When we come back, new information about the people that the investigation is focused on right now. Are they suspects? No. But they're certainly the focus. We'll find out why when we come back.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you're looking at two screens right now. On your left, the White House where the flag is being put to half mast obviously in solemn remembrance of those who were lost and injured here in Boston, the attacks during the marathon. On your right, an ongoing presser at Brigham and Women's Hospital where there are still people in critical condition fighting for their lives.

Let's listen in.


DR. RON WALLS, CHMN., EMERGENCY MED., BRIGHAM & WOMEN'S HOSP.: -- really cooperative with the provider teams to really help us to take care of them; amazing in how they handled the initial pain in the few minutes it took us to get that pain treated properly so they were comfortable; and I would say in terms of recollection, their recollection starts at the moment of the blast. They could tell you where they were, but then there's this event and everything after that -- it was, for most of these patients, something that no human being could possibly be prepared for, and there was I think a tremendous amount of confusion in the area immediately after the blast.


WALLS: You know, I've never, ever been surprised by patients' resiliency. I think the more people are challenged, the more they rise. And I've seen many patients with critical illness and critical injuries, and still after 30 years of doing this, I'm still impress with how they handle it.


WALLS: They are about half and half, male and female. The youngest patient 16 years old and oldest 62.


WALLS: So characterizing these patients as critical means that they are still in a state where their health is in balance. So we will -- when we consider them stable ,we'll move them down from critical. So we would count these patients as critical patients.


WALLS: All of the amputations -- the one amputation has occurred, and the two patients with threatened limbs are here at Brigham and Women's Hospital. In our Brigham and Wmoen's Faulkner Hospital site, none of those patients were amputated.


WALLS: So it's really -- the presence of these projectiles from the blast really is a proximity issue. The closer they are to the source, the more likely they are to get hit with one of these. From a patient's perspective, it really doesn't make any difference. They're injured by the blast impact itself, and some of them have foreign bodies that were sent in that were things lying around on the street and others have foreign bodies that were part of the device.

But all of those patients -- those foreign bodies can be removed and they have the potential sometimes to damage blood vessels or damage nerves. We have one patient who had a pellet go through an artery, and that artery had to be tied off. But, in general, the patients wouldn't feel any different if they did or did not have the shrapnel in them.


WALLS: I think Erin can take that one.

ERIN (ph): So the presence of law enforcement is really at the request of Boston Police Department. We have talked to our colleagues at the other area hospitals who have received our patients. It's our understanding that there are armed law enforcement agents there really out of an abundance of caution to keep us all safe. And quite frankly, given that we don't know what's going on out there, we're happy to have them as long as they want to stay.


ERIN (ph): We're told there's no perceived threat at any of the institutions. It's just precautionary at this point. Thank you.

REPORTER: Can you talk a little more about the time (ph) and nature of injuries of those who may have had (INAUDIBLE)?

WALLS: So some of them, from the shrapnel perspective, some of the shrapnel injuries are actually pretty minor. There are pieces of metal embedded just a short distance under the skin and not near anything important, so those patients really -- that piece of their care is quite simple. The patients who had sort of the non-shrapnel related injuries predominantly have fractures and have areas of their muscle and skin that has been destroyed or removed by the blast. So it's a matter for surgeons now to salvage that area and then to do reconstructive surgery.


WALLS: We had 31 patients here at Brigham and Women's Hospital, of which 15 were admitted and 9 went to the operating room, 5 of those patients are in critical condition. At Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, we had a total of 13 patients, 4 of whom went to the operating room and 1 of whom is critical.

REPORTER: I think we also heard yesterday that you have one (INAUDIBLE).

WALLS: So we don't improvise when these kinds of things happen. We've drilled this a lot. We know how to do this. We have a standardized definition system that allows us to specify the level of response we need, and it goes out in an automated way to the people who should hear that message. And it tells them of the level of the ramp-up that we're doing and they know from that where they should report.

And so yesterday, because it was during the day, we had additional staff on in any case because of the Boston Marathon, because we always get more patients, not this kind of patient but always get more patients on Marathon Day, so we had additional staff anyway. And because it was daytime when we ramped up, we had virtually the entire trauma surgical service in the emergency department working with us within minutes.


CUOMO: Lost him. Well, we're no longer hearing that press conference. That was Brigham and Women's Hospital, but we did get the headline for it.

I'm back here now with John Berman. This is the CNN way. We keep passing off one to the other, to keep that team coverage going so we can get new reporting in as often as possible.

Some of the headlines here that went on before you came back in was that they do believe that there were some foreign bodies that were exploded out of the device. Early on ballistics and explosives guys were saying they didn't think these bombs were capable of that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's what doctors are saying now at two different hospitals. They're both saying that the scope of the injury they've seeing and literally the things they're pulling out of people indicate not just pieces from fences or trash cans that may be nearby, debris, but things that were inside the devices themselves. We're hearing that now from two sets of doctors at two different hospitals.

CUOMO: And a major headline because there is sometimes in these situations somewhat of a tendency of certain media to extend, expand, to keep the story going. Here from the doctors themselves who have every interest in mitigating the danger here, they can't say that people are out of the woods yet.

We're saying this because we want you to understand it's not over. There are families who will struggle. People whose lives are still in the balance because of how serious the injuries are.

BERMAN: And the number is growing in terms of the number of people injured right now. The number I believe we have now is 176. That may just be because we're getting more current, better information. But not just the number is growing but the number of people in serious or critical condition is also growing. They are watching them very, very carefully. The care they are getting at this time, some 20 hours after this event, is still crucial.

CUOMO: People sedated because of pain. They don't know what's going on with their minds yet. But we know this for sure, John, and we've been reporting this. the response on the ground, the triage, the doctors made all the difference in terms of surviving this situation.

BERMAN: They saved lives, there's no question. I talked to one doctor who was at the scene who said in some cases there were four doctors for every patient on the ground.

CUOMO: That's the coverage for now. We're going to go to break now. More on the investigation. JB will pick it up when we come back.