Dr. David Schoenfeld heard a fierce gun fight and explosions outside his Watertown home and, expecting massive casualties, bolted out the door and to work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Less than 10 minutes after he arrived in the emergency department, he saw the results of that battle:
At 1:20 a.m., emergency medical personnel wheeled in marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, unconscious, handcuffed, and in cardiac arrest. He was surrounded by more than a dozen police officers.
Emergency crews were performing CPR on Tsarnaev, who had massive injuries, including burns on his right shoulder and chest and a gaping wound on his torso. They had already removed his tattered clothing.
Hospital trauma teams, who had been alerted that he was on his way, were already in protective gowns and gloves. There were about 20 patients already in a different part of the emergency department.
Schoenfeld said caregivers swung into action, placing a breathing tube in Tsarnaev’s throat and tubes in his chest to release pressure from his lungs. Schoenfeld brought in a tray with instruments to cut open his chest to see if his heart was damaged. But, with massive blood loss from his wounds, Tsarvaev could not be saved, emergency department physicians said.
Schoenfeld said doctors and nurses treated the patient like any other, even as they were aware “this was not a normal night for trauma.’’
“It’s really about the relationship you have with the patient,’’ said Dr. Richard Wolfe, head of the hospital’s emergency department. “You have to put their interest first during that period. It doesn’t matter if it’s a perpetrator or the president.’’
Tsarnaev was declared dead at 1:35 a.m.
Medical staff ripped off their gloves and gowns and turned the room over to law enforcement, Schoenfeld said. They returned to treating other patients, including a half-dozen with chest pains, one with a wrist fracture, and two who were suicidal, Wolfe said.