WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — Lt. Col. David P. Diamond, who provided aid to victims and assistance to Boston Police in the immediate aftermath of the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, has been awarded the Soldiers Medal for his actions that day.
It was Sen. John McCain who pinned the medal on Diamond’s chest during a Capitol Hill ceremony Sept. 27. Among those in attendance were Secretary of the Army Eric K. Fanning, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey.
“This is really a reflection of my profession of arms, not of myself,” Diamond said, after receiving the medal. He serves now as legislative affairs officer within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “I come from great stock, and great training and great leadership. It’s a culture, a family we have developed together. Those actions are really representative of what we all do in the military.”
Back on April 15, 2013, Diamond was serving as a legislative affairs officer with U.S. Special Operations Command. He and his family were in Boston, so that he could run in the marathon. He said for that day, he’d set a personal goal for himself to run the race in less than four hours — something he had never done before. He completed the race in 3 hours and 56 minutes.
After he crossed the finish line, he said, he waited for other runners to finish, and for results and awards to be given. He sat near the finish line to recover from the race.
“I just sat down on the side of the road to kind of collect myself, do some texting, find where my family was,” he said. “That’s when the bomb detonated.”
Within five minutes of finishing the race, Diamond heard the first of two improvised explosive devices go off. He was but 50 yards from that explosion. There was a “VIP bridge” there that allowed certain spectators to cross the road and move into the bleachers that had been set up for them. It was that bridge, he said, that had shielded him from the first blast.
As a special operations Soldier with seven deployments under his belt, Diamond has seen plenty of combat, he said. While the explosion he heard was unexpected in the context of a marathon inside the United States, the sound was familiar.
“I knew exactly what it was,” he said. “I kind of centered myself. I knew I needed to get in there to investigate. I didn’t know to what extent there was damage or injury. I just knew that detonation was not timely. And that certainly, it was reminiscent of what I’d heard before. And so when I got in there, I started assessing the situation. And based on the crowd fleeing, I knew it was something significant.”
Diamond ran toward the sound of the explosion to see what he could do to be of assistance there, he said. When he arrived at the site of the first IED, the second IED exploded — meters from where he was standing.
“I found somebody of authority, a police officer,” he said. “I offered my assistance, and began to collaborate with what I thought the best course of action would be, which was to secure the area and to begin to kind of deconstruct the finish line so that we could get medical personnel uninhibited access in there. In any medical site, you’re looking to triage the injured.”
According to a U.S. Army-provided narrative of the events that day, Diamond triaged the injured and identified 18 critical individuals with amputations. He also re-distributed the limited medical supplies on site, and confiscated police flex cuffs to use as tourniquets.
“We didn’t have a robust supply of medical gear, so I went into the sporting goods store and grabbed some packing material, like T-shirts and socks and belts for tourniquets,” Diamond said. “And then once I got out, I kind of distributed those amongst those who were helping, and kind of went from there.”
At the scene, Diamond used his emergency medical technician training to render aid. He started with a woman whose lower left leg was badly injured with a portion of her tibia protruding from her knee. He packed her wound with a T-shirt and used a flex cuff as a tourniquet for her leg. Another woman nearby was complaining of extreme pain and the feeling of burning. After doing an assessment for bleeding and ensuring she had a clear airway, he used water and a piece of metal to remove the embedded debris from her abdomen.
After passing her off to a crew designated to evacuate her, he moved to a man suffering from losing both legs. The man’s right leg was missing below the knee and his left leg was severed above the knee. Because he was in excruciating pain and losing a tremendous amount of blood, the responders assisting him had difficulty controlling him enough to apply the appropriate dressings and tourniquets. Diamond positioned his body weight on top of the man and controlled his arms so that the other responders could properly assist.
In the next 30 minutes, Diamond assisted seven other amputee victims, all missing parts of their legs, some with badly injured hands and multiple lacerations across their bodies. As with previous victims, Diamond helped apply packing materials and tourniquets to contain their injuries and prepared them for transport.
The last victim he assisted was an older gentleman, approximately in his 60s and weighing 180 pounds. Initially he was unresponsive, not breathing, and without a pulse. He suffered several lacerations to his feet, legs, and hands. However, while bleeding profusely, these injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. Diamond instructed a responder to hold the gentleman’s head so that his airway was as open as possible while another responder and Diamond alternated giving chest compressions and resuscitation breaths.
After approximately five minutes of sustained cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the patient began breathing and his heartbeat resumed. Diamond decided to assist with the evacuation of the man because of the critical nature of his situation. He grabbed a backboard to load the gentleman and prepared him for movement to an ambulance.
With limited personnel available, Diamond carried the feet side of the backboard solo while two others carried the top end. Diamond motivated the two volunteers as they ran 800 meters to the first available ambulance. Through their diligent efforts, they saved the man’s life, averting a fourth casualty.
After helping take the man to the ambulance, Diamond was pushed outside the security perimeter, and was unable to continue to offer assistance. Exhausted, and covered in blood, he departed the blast site to locate his family.
“Lt. Col. Diamond did all this without regard for his own personal safety,” said McCain at the ceremony. “He brought stability and leadership to a scene of chaos. Historically, the Boston Marathon is an event meant to celebrate the patriots of the Revolutionary War. To a new generation, it will also commemorate the courageous actions of the men and women who responded in a time of desperate need. In today’s new world, the battlegrounds have changed, but the face of valor has not. We must continue to recognize those who pass that test and who answer that call without hesitation, without personal gain, and risk to their own personal safety.”
Diamond said that his experiences and training as a Soldier were what helped him that day, to help others who had been injured in the two blasts.
“My training, my experiences in combat, my values I embrace as an Army leader, moved me back to the finish line to assist those that were injured, who needed help,” he said. “I know, had it been my family, my friends, my colleagues that were injured, or myself, I’d have wanted the same kind of help. It’s just those times, when you don’t really think about your safety, you just think about the regard for others.”
(U.S. Army Special Operations Command contributed to this report.)