When the explosions happened on Monday, Boston firefighter Jimmy Plourde’s instincts were to run toward danger, which led him right to a Weston, Connecticut girl who was hurt and in need of help.
Plourde, who is with the fire house in Jamaica Plain, was standing on Boylston Street, about 50 feet away from the blast, and had to get past a barrier to get to victims.
“(P)eople began ripping the fence and the crosses and the bleachers apart. I tried to give it a couple pulls. I knew it would take a couple of minutes, so I crawled through the bleachers to get at the scene to see what I could do first,” Plourde said.
That’s when Plourde found Victoria McGrath, a 20-year-old Northeastern University student from Weston, badly hurt.
“I came across a young girl lying on the floor. She was there with another woman. I said 'You gotta go.' She said 'That's my daughter, I'm not leaving.' I said, “I'll take good care of her,’ so I looked down and she had a bleeding leg.”
At the time, Plourde was surrounded by people in pain, but his focus was Victoria.
“I didn't have a big bag of fancy tricks that I could do all sorts of fancy medical tricks. I just had myself, a set of gloves and some bandages. And I knew right there, use whatever we had around us, which was a rag of some kind to control the bleeding and get this young girl out,” Plourde said.
He made a tourniquet and picked Victoria up.
“She looked me right in the eye and she said, ‘I'm scared, I need help.’ I said, ‘I'll do my best, let's get you out of here,” he said.
A photographer captured Plourde rescuing Victoria but he said he’s no hero.
“No, absolutely not. I feel like my training kicked in as a firefighter,” Plourde said. “I thought before this, almost nine years of experience, I've seen some things, I can handle this, not a big deal. All out the window, start from day one, it was that bad.”
But Plourde made a promise to Victoria’s parents and wanted to get her to an ambulance.
“I was glad that I saw two Boston EMTs that I knew and trusted. I knew they'd do a great job taking care of that girl,” McGrath said. “Everybody did their part to make sure this little girl went back to her family.”
Plourde couldn’t remember the girl’s name until someone reached out to him on Facebook.
“Through a mutual friend through Facebook, I know she's doing OK. I don't know much more than that. I was inundated with phone calls and texts. The only one I really responded to said, ‘Hey, I knew that girl, I know the family, and I know she's doing good.”
Victoria's family said she is having surgery to repair the nerve endings in her leg tomorrow, but it looks like she will make a full recovery.
Victoria has told Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick that she wants to thank Plourde personally when she gets out of the hospital.
Photo Credit: AP/MetroWest Daily News, Ken McGagh