BIDDEFORD — When the horrific bombings took place at the Boston Marathon on April 15, the instinct of most of the thousands gathered near the Boylston Street finish line was to flee for their lives. After two bombs exploded, no one could be sure if more were in the offing.

But for some, their reaction wasn’t to run. Rather, their first thought was how could they help the injured.

One of the those people was Robert Parisien, a Biddeford High School graduate, Class of 1999, whose parents still live in the area.

Parisien, who is about to begin his residency in orthopedic medicine at Boston Medical Center, had arrived in Boston the morning of the marathon.

“I went to Boston that morning partly to apartment hunt and partly to watch the race,” he said.

Although Parisien had attended Tufts Medical School in Boston, this year was his first time attending the marathon.

He said he had been watching the runners for a couple of hours in the morning and decided to travel up Newbury Street toward the finish line.

When he was a block away from the finish, with the Lenox Hotel in his view, “I heard an explosion. It sounded like the sky was exploding,” said Parisien.

“The ground shook, it felt like an earthquake,” he said, “and everything slowed down.”

About 10 seconds later was the second explosion.

“It sounded like thunder times 100,” said Parisien. “I didn’t know if we were under some sort of attack.”

About 30 seconds after the second bomb went off, “people were screaming, yelling, crying.

“My instinct was to start gathering information. I waited for a third and fourth bomb,” said Parisien.

Looking toward the finish line, he said, there was a “tidal wave” of people coming toward him.

“My initial instinct was to look at people’s faces to try to see who was bleeding, who was hurt.

“The terror on peoples’ faces. ”¦ I’ve never experienced anything like that,” said Parisien.

He said he saw a woman on the ground who was bleeding from both legs.

She was surrounded by her husband and several other women who were trying to help.

Parisien, who studied orthopedic medicine at Tufts and has trauma experience, stepped in.

“I introduced myself to her husband and to her. ”¦ I examined her and her, wounds,” he said.

With the help of the others, Parisien wrapped the woman’s wounds, kept pressure on them and tried to keep her stable.

At that point, he said, “There was nothing more we could do.”

Within about 20 to 25 minutes, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Because of his involvement with her treatment, Parisien used his contacts in the Boston medical field to find her and make contact with her several days later.

Parisien declined to give her name out of respect for her privacy.

When he visited her in the hospital, Parisien said the woman recognized him and said, “You’re the guy who saved me.”

He said he visited her for a couple of hours, and throughout the visit “there was an unspoken common bond we know that we share.”

“That was an incredible day,” he said.

The woman has had multiple operations, and while she may need several more, fortunately, her legs were saved.

“She will lead a healthy, normal life and walk out of the hospital,” said Parisien.

Parisien said he plans to keep in touch with the woman and her family, who live in the Boston area.

While some may call it fate that Parisien was there to help this woman, he doesn’t see it that way.

The events on the 15th were “horrible,” he said.

But, he added, “I feel I was fortunate not to be close enough to be injured, but I feel fortunate I was close enough to help.”

What he said he feels is most inspiring about the day, is that although what happened “was the epitome of evil, it was immediately followed by people helping people.”

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 324 or [email protected].

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