Before Victoria McGrath was even wheeled into the room to meet the man who carried her to safety after the Boston Marathon bombings, tears started streaming from the 20-year-old’s face.
McGrath, whose legs were badly injured by the explosions last Monday, was carried to safety by Boston firefighter Jimmy Plourde, who cradled McGrath in his arms and raced her to the nearest ambulance.
Both had expressed a desire to meet again and that tear-filled meeting took place on Tuesday night in the hospital where McGrath is being treated and is expected to make a full recovery.
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.
“People 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 McGrath, a 20-year-old Northeastern University student. At the time, Plourde was surrounded by people in pain, but his focus was on 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 a photo of Plourde rescuing Victoria and that photo became one of the most iconic taken on that tragic day.
That led to a lot of attention for Plourde, who maintains that he is 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.”
At first, Plourde couldn’t recall McGrath’s name, but someone recognized the two in the photo and reached out to him on Facebook.
Meanwhile, McGrath told Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick that she would eventually like to thank Plourde personally when she gets out of the hospital.
McGrath got her wish a little sooner than that.
Photo Credit: AP/MetroWest Daily News, Ken McGagh