'You need to say, 'I'm Devin Wang and I'm the person in that picture."
October 31, 2013 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Portrait of a Rescue (marathon bombing photos) posted by roomthreeseventeen (14 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This is a really fascinating glimpse at how quickly the narrative is cemented. Everyone has heard of Jeff Bauman. Everyone has heard of Carlos Arredondo. And here is Devin Wang, pushing the wheelchair in the most iconic image of the marathon bombing and I had never heard her name until today. Even if you Google her name, it's not at all clear that someone with that name was connected to the marathon. You have to dig deeper. There are four people in this famous photo, and only two names are known.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:41 AM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

For me, it was the fourth page of Google hits before I saw a link that clearly connected her to the marathon. It was this Metafilter page.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:42 AM on October 31, 2013

I am ashamed to say that I had never noticed Devin Wang in that photo before now. I'm grateful to know her story.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:49 AM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Then the sound repeated itself, a fraction more distant. As it faded, the students heard a ragged, rising chorus of screams.

Inside the [medical] tent, Benshoff heard the PA announcer say, "You all know what to do. You've been trained for this."

Holy crap. This might be the best writing I've seen about that day.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:59 AM on October 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Bonnie L. Ford nails it. Thanks to her for bringing us this story.
posted by billcicletta at 9:09 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have been most struck in that image (note: i've only seen it cropped) by the difference in expression on the faces of the two medics and the other men--one clearly in shock and one effused with horror. Turns out, the woman wasn't a medic, not really.

I know, photographs basically lie (by making a single split second, carefully framed and eventually cropped, seem like the complete truth), but still, people so calm and focused in crisis amaze me.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:32 AM on October 31, 2013

I like that they focused on someone who was not physically harmed by the events of the day. I like that they never try to compare her pain to Bauman's pain, or even hint that she should feel lucky, or shrug it off, or whatever. I like that this is a diagnostic blueprint for PTSD, even though they never say those exact words, and the matter-of-factness that counseling is just something you do to get better after you find yourself in the middle of a traumatic situation.

I like that we seem to be crawling toward a future where we all understand that mental health is on par with physical health.
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:33 AM on October 31, 2013 [5 favorites]

This is an outstanding article, and, as savetheclocktower said, an outstanding portrait of the reality behind PTSD.

This next part is anecdata, so take it for what it's worth.

In my experience as an EMT and later a paramedic, I've found (and have heard it confirmed by peers) that it is easier to do than it is to have done.

That is, in the moment, you're operating on your training and adrenaline. Method. Process. Procedure. A, B, C.

It's afterwards that's the hard part, because that's when the context comes rushing in, and the histories and back stories and the gestalt of the entire incident. The incident itself is a snapshot out of time: one moment, abstracted from larger context and sufficient unto itself.

The first time I saw someone severely injured enough to die, I was 19 years old, and that moment marks the line between the person I was before and the person I was afterwards. I can only imagine that Devin Wang has gone through, and is going through, the same dissociative out-of-body experience.

She did, and that was the easy part. Now she's dealing with having done, which is much more complicated and difficult.
posted by scrump at 9:42 AM on October 31, 2013 [23 favorites]

I almost ashamed to say this but until today I hadn't noticed that Carlos Arredondo was holding a severed artery in his hand in the lead photo. I'm glad to see that Devin Wang is also being recognized for her efforts. If it weren't for the efforts of all three of them, Jeff Bauman probably wouldn't be alive today. I wish her nothing but the best in her future life of helping others.
posted by tommasz at 10:18 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was expecting somebody photobombing a marathon, not a photo of the Boston marathon bombing. :(
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:03 AM on October 31, 2013

Reading this felt like all the air was stolen from my lungs for a minute, and my eyes are bit wet. That transformation through terror, even just reading about it - it's powerful writing. I have so much respect for Devin, for all of her choices and actions and who she is. What an inspiration.
posted by harujion at 11:08 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was expecting somebody photobombing a marathon, not a photo of the Boston marathon bombing. :(

I'm someone who instinctively goes for the joke first, even when it's not entirely appropriate. (Hell, check my comment history.) I say that because I want you to know who I am and where I'm coming from when I say to you, "um, really?"
posted by Naberius at 11:11 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, really. On the front page, the post just says "marathon bombing photos", and between it not saying "Boston", and "photobombing" being a thing, that's what I expected when I clicked. That's all I'm saying, not trying to make a joke.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:28 AM on October 31, 2013

That video interview made me cry. So I decided to revisit some of the most horrific pictures of that day, to see if my feelings had changed. I went to Cryptome.org and searched on "boston marathon" and the first 3 links, OMFG there is no warning strong enough for these huge, high resolution photos. There are pictures there of the EMTs and bystanders reaching the site, it is absolute heroism. And there is one particularly tragic photo of Krystle Campbell screaming as she fell and died.

But I could not locate the picture of Krystle, so I googled some more. And instead of the photo, I found something I never expected, probably the only thing that could make this entire event even more horrific.

There are Boston Marathon Truthers that think this was a hoax by the government.

In 25 years, people will call on Devin Wang for her testimony that this really happened, to debunk deniers and revisionists.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:33 PM on October 31, 2013

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