kneeling at the cot of a young runner,
guiding her to concentrate her attention
on warming her frigid body to a normal
temperature under three blankets.
Someone saw my surprised expression
after the first blast and said that perhaps a
transformer had blown. The second blast
sent a number of volunteers running out
of the tent toward the site, and I knew
that a disaster must have occurred. This
time a passing colleague said “two IEDs
[improvised explosive devices].” The
young runner began to cry and panic. I
held her head toward me to reduce her
exposure to others’ injuries.
Eventually, our medical team was
focusing only on those injured by the
bombs. The most severely injured were
carried immediately out to waiting am-
bulances, leaving many in the tent to be
treated by marathon volunteers. I helped
calm and reassure several patients as their
wounds were bound, talking about what
the medical folks were doing to help them.
What have you done since the
Brown: I’ve seen many individuals in my
clinical practice who have been affected by
the bombings and manhunt: runners who
finished, runners who didn’t, people who
work or live in that area of the city or in
Watertown, where the suspects were. The
event has touched most of the lives in the
city and has taught me about the different
hats we wear as psychologists.
What kind of self-care have you
done, given your own exposure
to the events?
Brown: I’ve been practicing what I
Psychology student among Boston terrorism’s victims
When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon on April
15, psychology graduate student Patrick Downes and his
wife, Jessica Kensky, were at the finish line. Downes, who ran
the Boston Marathon himself in 2005, went to the race to
reminisce. Instead, the newlyweds each lost a leg.
A Boston native, the 29-year-old Downes is working on a
doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the Massachusetts
School of Professional Psychology and is completing training at
Tufts Medical Center’s outpatient psychiatry department. Kensky,
32, is an oncology nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In the fall, Downes and Kensky plan to move to San Francisco,
where Downes landed an internship position in San Francisco
General Hospital’s child and adolescent services department.
Downes’s doctoral research focuses on how empathy and
emotional intelligence predict how effective psychotherapy
will be. That focus, according to a Massachusetts School of
Professional Psychology tribute online, is “a natural exploration
for this sensitive, talented, thoughtful and serious young
professional who immerses himself in relationships, both
personal and professional.”
The outpouring of support from friends and strangers alike
attests to the strength of those relationships.
“Patrick is the kindest, most patient, funniest, best person
ever,” says his friend Rachel Bloom, a psychology grad student
at George Washington University who worked with Downes at
a therapeutic school called the Gifford School. “When he left
Gifford for grad school, we hung up signs in the Lower School
that said, ‘What Would Patrick Do?’ because he was such a great
role model for the kids.”
A Facebook page called “Patrick and Jess Running Again”
at www.facebook.com/ForPatrickAndJess exemplifies the
confidence that friends, colleagues and other supporters have in
the two avid runners’ recovery.
—REBECCA A. CLAY