Associated Files
Title
WBUR Oral History Project: Tim Sullivan
Title
WBUR Oral History Project: Tim Sullivan. Clip 1
Contributor
Sullivan, Tim (Interviewee)
O'Brien, Joanna Shea (Interviewer)
Girdharry, Kristi (Recordist)
McDonough, Ryan (Contributor)
Language
English
Date created
January 24, 2014
Type of resource
Sound recording
Genre
Interviews
Oral histories (document genres)
Format
Sound Recording
Digital origin
born digital
Abstract/Description
Countless lives were affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath. The WBUR Oral History Project collects stories from individuals whose lives were immediately and irrevocably changed by these events. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of WBUR, our team of oral historians, and the participation of these interview subjects, Our Marathon has tried to ensure that these stories are not forgotten. We believe that these stories matter, and that they demonstrate the ways historical events transform the lives of the people who lived through them. Oral historians Jayne K. Guberman, Ph.D., and Joanna Shea O'Brien conducted the interviews for this project. Oral History Project Manager Kristi Girdharry, Our Marathon Project Co-Director Jim McGrath, and Community Outreach Lead Joanne DeCaro recorded the interviews and provided research assistance and post-interview processing. McGrath and Our Marathon Audio Technician Ryan McDonough provided sound editing and processing for all of the interviews and clips. The opinions and statements expressed in interviews and related content featured in the WBUR Oral History Project do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Our Marathon, WBUR, Northeastern University, or any employees or volunteers affiliated with these institutions and projects. Our Marathon and The WBUR Oral History project make no assertions about the veracity of statements made by participants in this project. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital played a critical role in the rehabilitation of many of the most seriously injured survivors of the bombings, including 15 amputees (two of whom were double amputees). They managed the opening of their new facility in the Boston Navy Yard just days after the bombings with the admission and care for dozens of patients and intense media attention, both of which continued for several months. Many of their staff were personally affected as they were runners on the Spaulding marathon charity team or were waiting near the finish line to support the team and witnessed the bombings. Our Marathon's WBUR Oral History Project sought to collect a cross-section of interviews from Spaulding staff to chronicle how the rehabilitative care of marathon bombing survivors was an integral part of the city's response to violence and mass trauma. Tim Sullivan, Director of Communications for Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, grew up in Tiverton, RI, where he worked at a local farm throughout his high school career before enrolling at Northeastern University as a communications and political science major. He gained experience in audio and television production through Northeastern's co-ops system and took a job at Boston University after graduation with the distance education program (a predecessor to online courses). While working at BU, Tim enrolled in a Master's Program in Advertising which he completed in 2005. He began his career at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston that same year, in communications and media relations, with responsibilities growing as the hospital expanded its network. Tim married his college girlfriend, who is a violinist and a music teacher, and the pair had two children. He also teaches a media relations course at Boston University. Tim begins his interview reflecting on a childhood illness that caused hearing loss in one ear and being raised in a family with a strong work ethic and how that informed his approach to work at Spaulding later in his life. He describes Spaulding's patient centered approach, which informs how he handles the media, and shares some lessons learned in his communications career. In the months leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon, Spaulding leadership was consumed with the completion of and move to a new state-of-the-art, 132 bed, patient-centered, green design certified hospital in Charlestown, Massachusetts. As the Director of Communications, he was focused on publicity, communications print, and media output leading up to the move; including an expected front page story with the Boston Globe that was scheduled to run the day after the marathon. In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, Spaulding set up an incident command center at the Nashua Street Boston hospital location. Tim discusses the chaotic events of the afternoon, and the week that followed as Spaulding navigated the move to Charlestown, the arrival of the first bombing survivors, and the anticipation of a media frenzy as those patients arrived. Tim discusses at length the role of local and national media juxtaposed against Spaulding's primary responsibility to protect the patients identity and help them recover and rehabilitate. Tim shares his approach to helping both patients and staff navigate the nonstop media attention, tactics he used, and lessons he learned. He reflects on the irony of how the Boston Marathon bombings changed many things for Spaulding, noting that at one time he would have gladly welcomed media attention from nationally known news outlets, but after April 15, 2013, he began to turn down media requests. He also shares anecdotes of some of the more challenging situations he had to navigate with Spaulding patients and staff. Tim concludes the interview reflecting on personal lessons learned and his gratitude for the stronger ties that he, the staff, and some patients now share in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. In this clip, Tim details anticipating a feature story on the new hospital in the Boston Globe the Sunday before the marathon, and how they dealt with the aftermath of marathon bombings.
Notes
The opinions and statements expressed in interviews and related content featured in the WBUR Oral History Project do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Our Marathon, WBUR, Northeastern University, or any employees or volunteers affiliated with these institutions and projects. Our Marathon and The WBUR Oral History project make no assertions about the veracity of statements made by participants in this project.
Source note
The WBUR Oral History Project. Tim Sullivan (Oral History), Joanna Shea O'Brien (Oral Historian), Kristi Girdharry (Recorder) Ryan McDonough (Sound Editing and Processing)
Related item
Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive
Subjects and keywords
Boston Marathon Bombing, Boston, Mass., 2013
Permanent URL
Use and reproduction
Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Requests for permission to publish quotations should be addressed to Our Marathon (marathon@neu.edu) and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. Commercial use of content is prohibited. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

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