PINEHURST – During a recent vacation in the United Kingdom, a FirstHealth physician found himself a witness to the aftermath of one of the biggest news stories of the year and standing by to offer his help if it was needed.
John Byron, M.D., and his wife, Kathy, had just returned to their London hotel from a day’s outing and dinner when they heard sirens and other sounds of commotion in the area. From the BBC, they learned that the London Bridge and the neighboring Borough Market had been the target of an apparent terrorist attack, the second in the tourist-heavy location this year.
They also learned that some of the victims were being triaged in a nearby hotel. Since their hotel, the Andaz London on Liverpool Street, was less than a mile away from the bridge and market, Dr. Byron wondered if it might be the one mentioned in the news report.
“I thought, ‘That’s interesting…maybe I should go down and help,’” says Dr. Byron, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Southern Pines Women’s Health Center, a FirstHealth Clinic.
For the next several hours, between midnight and 5 a.m., after making himself known and as willing to help, Dr. Byron mingled with members of the hotel staff who stayed busy assembling beds and distributing water. He was not needed as the British medical and rescue personnel – their assignments identified by the wording on their vests – had the situation well under control.
“They were all calm, very calm and very professional,” Dr. Byron says. “Everything was very efficiently done and very organized.”
Since the most severely wounded were either air-lifted or removed by ambulance from the site of the attack, the attack victims Dr. Byron observed at the hotel were being evaluated and treated for cuts and less serious injuries. About 5 a.m., after the commotion had cleared up, he returned to his room and went to bed. By the time he and his wife came down for breakfast barely three hours later, everything in the lobby was back in place with all evidence of the drama of the evening before cleared away.
“It was business as usual at 8 a.m.,” Dr. Byron says. “The whole hotel was cleaned up. (The English) have a culture they’re not going to have anybody mess with their everyday life.”
Taking their cue from the hosting Brits – known for generations for their grace under fire, the Byrons resumed their planned activities but returned to the hotel that evening to find a certificate of appreciation and a note of thanks for him.
In addition to an invitation for a glass of wine or beer and the chance to become better acquainted during his next visit to London, Dr. Byron had the following message: “I must tell you how impressed I was/still am by your commitment and determination to be of assistance when required. I have seldom seen such an act of grace, you silently sitting there and letting us do our jobs. That requires a special kind of person as well, John. It was extremely comforting that you were there in case we needed you. I have tremendous respect for your willingness, readiness to assist and your tremendous patience.”
The general manager of a London hotel thanked FirstHealth’s John Byron, M.D., for his offer of assistance following a London Bridge terror attack with a thank-you note, a certificate of appreciation and (as pictured) a platter of cupcakes.