Lessons and survivors from Boston Marathon evident in Fort Worth

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 11:44 PM

FORT WORTH -- She's told the story many times and when she spoke of it Friday, she briefly choked up.

"I don't know where that came from," Katie Powers said, surprised by the crack in her voice.

It came from deep within her heart.

Powers is a nurse from Florida. She volunteers in medical tents at marathons. She was in Boston in April 2013.

Someone snapped a photo of her about an hour before the bombs exploded. She heard them, then knew something horrible happened when patients began pouring in.

"When I saw that young man come in with no legs, and saw bones and blood," she said, explaining the moment when it all hit her.

"There was a nurse working with me, she was a very experienced ER nurse," she said. "And when they brought in the young man with no legs, she turned to me and she just started crying, you know. 'Did you see that? Did you see that? I don't think I can do this!' And the momma in me dug in. And I said, 'We don't have a choice, sweetheart.' And I grabbed her face and I said, 'We will do this, and we will do it well.'"

And they did.

"We did what we had to do," she said. "No one panicked. We just did what we had to do...

"And I know we saved lives," she added.

Dr. Darrin D'Agostino of the UNT Health Science Center is the medical director of the Cowtown Marathon. He said lessons from Boston will be visible in Fort Worth.

"That team functioned so well together, and it was because of the pre-planning of the Boston staff -- medical and marathon staffs," he said. "The people putting it together were in incredible communication."

D'Agostino reached out to people he knew who were working Boston when the bombing happened, and he said they all reiterated communication was key. So it's being upgraded for Sunday's Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth.

"A radio operator will be directly connected to me," D'Agostino explained. And that operator will never leave his side. That's in case cell phone communication goes down.

His team will be color coded with different colored lanyards and vests and jackets.

"Specific vests and jackets indicate people doing different jobs," D'Agostino explained.

D'Agostino said this year's race feels different because of what happened in Boston.

"Athletes, particularly endurance athletes, have a certain personality, a certain drive," he said. "They don't like to stop.

"I think the lessons that were learned were to keep going, keep moving," D'Agostino continued. "Nothing gets us down."

Katie Powers is a perfect example. She's visiting her daughter in Fort Worth so she can volunteer again.

She'll be back in another marathon medical tent Sunday morning. 

"Fort worth has been so good to my daughter," she said. "She's met so many people and so many wonderful friends that I hoped volunteering at Cowtown was a way of saying thank you to Fort Worth."

Powers is owed a great deal of thanks, too. Despite an attack, she's not deterred. She's determined.

"One powerful moment was, I don't know what possessed me, but I decided to throw my arms up in the air and I said, 'Does anybody want to pray?' A bunch of people came together," she said. "All I could think of was the Our Father. So I started saying Our Father and when I got to 'give us our daily bread,' I looked at everybody and I said, 'Today, our daily bread is our skills and our supplies, and we have both.'"

And both of those things saved lives. Her prayer was answered.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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