A doctor from Iowa was among the first emergency responders when two bombs went off Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The blasts killed three people and injured at least 175 others. Des Moines podiatrist Kirk Neustrom was working at the finish line medical tent, as he’s done the last 19 years, when he heard “a loud boom.”
He stepped outside just a couple seconds later. “I looked down the street and saw a big plume and thought ‘huh,’ I mean it sounded like a cannon and I thought that was strange,” Neustrom says. “And then, about 10 to 15 seconds later, we saw and heard the next one and I immediately knew it was a bomb. So, I immediately headed toward where the bombs went off because everyone knows if you’ve got bombs going off, you’re going to have people needing medical attention.”
The 53-year-old Neustrom, a Navy veteran, helped with basic triage. One of the first victims he encountered was badly wounded. “A gentleman with his legs blown off below the knees. He had no legs. That was probably the most gruesome thing that I saw,” Neustrom says.
“There were a lot of lower extremity injuries because, from what it looked like, the bomb was on the ground and blew out. A lot of people had injuries similar to what we all saw in the NCAA (basketball) Tournament – bones sticking out, bones blown away, things like that.” Investigators have not said much about the devices that were detonated or who they believe might be behind them.
Neustrom says he won’t let the tragedy prevent him from working at future Boston Marathons. “I’ll continue to go back there every year, absolutely,” Neustrom says. “I love Boston and I love the Boston Marathon. I refuse to let something like this keep me from doing that.” Neustrom, an avid runner himself, grew up in Okoboji. He’s lived in West Des Moines the last 21 years.