Boston EMT at marathon bombing invited to run race

The 2013 tragedy inspired him to start doing all the things in life he wanted to do, and the race association honored him by inviting him to run in April

By Erica Moura
Boston Herald

BOSTON, Mass. — Walter Dunbar, a first responder for Boston EMS, was one of the unsung heroes of last year’s marathon.

He helped save lives, and the Boston Athletic Association is honoring him with an invitation to run in this year’s race. It’s been a long haul since April 15, but Dunbar said he wouldn’t pass up this opportunity for anything. Here’s his story, as told to the Herald’s Erica Moura:

“I think growing up I was inspired to become an EMT. I wanted to be part of some kind of rescue unit. I really wanted to help people and hopefully save lives.

“Marathon Monday I was working the EMS detail. I was assigned to the family greeting area on Berkeley and Stuart streets.

“I was there with my partner when we heard the first explosion and we gave each other that look from a distance — and a couple of seconds later we heard the second explosion. We headed toward the finish line and as soon as we got anywhere near the medical tent it was filling up faster than you can imagine … it was really overwhelming in the beginning.

“I am so happy that we were able to save so many lives. I could not be any more proud of the people, the unit, the organization, that day.

“I’ve got to meet with a lot of the survivors, and it’s the most satisfying thing you could imagine.

“After the bombing I really wanted to run the marathon, and doors just kept opening up, and then the opportunity came and I immediately jumped at it.

“It’s about setting a goal seeing a challenge, going past your limitations. I’ll stay a runner for the rest of my life now.

“I really wanted to start just doing all the things in life that you always wanted to do. The marathon showed me that any day could be your last, and you have to treat it like that.

“I can’t wait to not just cross the finish line, but every footstep along that 26.2 miles is going to mean something. It’s just going to be happiness and tears and everything in between.

“This year it’s about aspiration, and it’s pulling everybody together again, and it’s just like this incredible full circle padlock chain of indestructible force.”

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