Thursday, October 10, 2013

Massachusetts Administrator's Boston Marathon Bombing Experience

This is part of a special blog series this week, highlighting AHCA/NCAL members who are “emergency heroes” – going above and beyond the call of duty in the face of natural and man-made disasters.

Ed Taglieri first heard the wailing of sirens around mile 22 on this April’s Patriots’ Day. Emergency vehicles began speeding past runners, and at first, Taglieri assumed a marathoner had had a medical emergency. This was Taglieri’s fourth time running the Boston Marathon’s 26.2 mile terrain, and he was accustomed to the presence of emergency responders around the track.

 “At that point, you’re in your zone, concentrating on getting to the finish line,” he said. “I’d just finished all the hills in Newton, [and] I just kept running.”

As the sirens’ roars intensified, Taglieri knew that something serious was happening further ahead near the finish line.

Taglieri, a nursing center administrator and pharmacist for nearly 31 years, was running his fourth Boston Marathon for the Alzheimer’s Association (ALZ). He had trained for months in preparation for the grueling race, rowing and weight training during 5 a.m. workouts, running 6-7 miles two days a week, and 18-20 miles each Saturday. Taglieri was determined to finish the race in less than five hours, and aspired to raise $8,000 for ALZ in 2013.
Taglieri has special ties to Alzheimer’s. His mother-in-law is living with the disease, and he currently serves as Executive Director of Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center, that has an Alzheimer’s unit, in Worcester, MA. In his previous three Boston Marathons, he had raised $48,000 for ALZ.

Taglieri involved not only his residents in his marathon preparations, but also the children in the center’s adjoining childcare center, the SALMON Center for Early Education. He spoke about the history and relevance of the Boston Marathon with children and residents, and emphasized the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and giving back to your community.

This year, Beaumont residents participated in a marathon of their own, when they worked together to reach a 26.2 mile distance through walking and rolling their wheelchairs. One week before the marathon, residents shared a pasta “load lunch,” and some were taken to tour the marathon’s route in the center’s van.

Suffice to say, given Taglieri’s extensive healthcare experience, he knew a thing or two about medical emergencies. He knew to ask a police officer what was going on, but the officer didn’t know. Spectators on the sidelines began yelling that the finish line was being diverted, but that runners should continue running. As he ran closer, people started saying it “didn’t look good.”

“You realize you have your family there waiting for you and now you’re starting to worry about that, and your body’s falling apart at the end of the marathon,” he said.

Ed’s usual mix of triumph and relief of crossing the finish line was tainted with anxiety and fear. No staff was waiting at the new finish line with food or water, as was customary, and a mass of runners crowded the area without medical support. It was there that Taglieri first heard of an explosion at the traditional finish line in Boston, where his family was waiting for him.

All of his means of communication and identification were with his family at the finish line—his cell phone, wallet, and photo ID. Helpless, Ed returned to his designated hotel where ALZ had agreed to meet before the race. He tried to borrow a cell phone to call his wife, but a police officer ordered that all cell phones be turned off. The hotel was placed on lockdown once police declared it secure.

All Ed could do was wait.

A few hours later, Ed was reunited with his family, all of whom were safe, and he was able to get a text message out to his center to let them know he was okay. 
Photo Courtesy of Ed Taglieri
Though Taglieri was one of the so-called lucky ones, and was not physically wounded or killed in the bombings that claimed three lives, including that of an eight-year old boy, and injured over 200 people, he says the emotional scars of the tragedy will stay with him forever.

“Living through the marathon provided a different prospective,” he says. “It’s hard to understand what an event like that is truly like unless you live through it. It’s a scary time at first when there is complete uncertainty of what’s going on, and it takes several hours to know.”

Ed now incorporates his Boston Bombing experiences into his center’s emergency preparedness trainings.  For leaders, Ed teaches the imperativeness of remaining calm in stressful situations. He explains that people look to those in management positions in times of crisis for direction.

If you would have asked Ed if this were going to be his final Boston Marathon before the 2013 race, he would have said, “yes.” But now, in the aftermath of a gut-wrenching tragedy, Ed says that he can’t hang up his racing shoes just yet.

He plans to run the 2014 Boston Marathon. According to Ed, it’s just “something he has to do.”

If you know of an emergency hero you’d like to tell us about, please email


  1. What happened at the Boston Marathon was a shame, but we must pick ourselves up and move forward. Boston 2014!