April 17, 2013 at 8:55 AM ET
Strangers quickly came to the aid of 11-year-old Aaron Hern, a California boy severely wounded by shrapnel from a bomb that exploded while he waited to take pictures of his mother finishing her first Boston Marathon.
“I found him there on the sidewalk with a few other people who were injured,” his father, Alan Hern, said Wednesday on TODAY. “I could see the wound in his leg. He was scared and obviously in pain. And so people came to help us pretty quickly. I’m not sure who they were.”
The Hern family was waiting for Aaron’s mother to cross the finish line when the second of two bombs sent metal fragments searing into the boy’s hip and thigh.
Someone attending to Aaron used a belt as a tourniquet to stem the leg’s bleeding.
“It wasn’t bleeding heavily, but it didn’t look very good, like a war wound,” Hern said. “Luckily, they got him on an ambulance pretty quickly.”
The boy, who turns 12 in just a few weeks, is now “resting really comfortably” in the intensive care unit of Boston’s Children’s Hospital.
"He’s been through a lot. A couple of times yesterday he opened his eyes. He knew we were there. His mother and I were with him,” Hern said. “He actually tried to talk. We figured out that he was worried about the breathing tube. He wasn’t sure what that was all about. We told him that everything was all right.”
David Mooney, director of Children Hospital’s trauma program, said his team was prepared for the sudden rush of patients but they still found the work difficult.
“We drill for this. We drill over and over again, and we had assembled a great crew down in the emergency department ready and waiting to receive the kids we thought we would get,” he said. "But when the kids arrived, it was a tough moment. The kids were all pretty badly hurt."