By now you’ve seen the pictures and clips. You have read the posts, tweets and texts. You have seen how Bostonians immediately dropped everything to look after their city. Thousands of shocked and displaced runners were clothed, fed and housed as an incredible reply to the horrific bombings. I love Boston and her people, so this didn’t surprise me. In fact, there was only one thing about yesterday that did surprise me.

Duck and cover! Get to safety! These are natural and important human instincts when faced with a sudden and unknown threat. It is totally understandable, and proper, that people ran after the bombs exploded. Tragic experience shows us that there are often more explosions to come. Even yesterday there were many reports of unexploded devices found in the area. This has since been confirmed as untrue.

As part of my work, I have been trained as an emergency first responder and have no hesitation to enter a scene where someone might be injured. Yesterday this was true for the numerous police and service officers who were working marathon security and of the medical personnel providing health services near the finish line. We should be grateful for this because they saved a lot of lives. Response time and training are key when you are dealing with traumatic injuries and loss of limbs. The bloodstained sidewalk in that gruesome aftermath photo is a testimony to that.

These men and women were heroes yesterday in the same way that they may have been heroes before and they will probably be heroes again; as part of the job for which they have trained. But there was another type of hero on the scene yesterday as well. In the few seconds of footage we have of the bombing and the immediate aftermath, interwoven between the terrified fleeing public and the trained professionals responding, there are ordinary men and women running toward the scene.

These random citizens picked themselves up after the blast and ran into the chaos to help. I don’t know their professions or their backgrounds. I don’t know if they knew childhood first-aid from Scouts or were lifeguards in university. All I know is that they did not have to put themselves at further risk but they did, and they saved lives too.

This is what surprised me and made me cry.

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