Coney Island Emergency Medicine Chairman Proud of Son’s Heroism During London Terrorist Attack
When Dr. Mark W. Kindschuh, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at New York City Health + Hospitals/Coney Island, learned that terrorists had attacked the heart of London last month, he quickly sent a text to his son, Mark, who was in London taking summer courses in English literature.
He didn’t hear back right away, but that wasn’t unusual. Mark, a political science major at Boston College, is an experienced foreign traveler and Dr. Kindschuh and his wife Catherine do not try to micromanage his life. Still, they experienced several anxious hours before they finally reached him.
Their son was safe. But it turned out that not only had Mark been in the Borough Market neighborhood where the terrorists attacked—he had risked his life to give first aid to one of the victims.
“I’m very proud of his choices,” Dr. Kindschuh says of his son.
He later learned that his son had been in a Borough Market bar when the attack occurred and—with only the first-aid training he received as a life guard—helped stem the bleeding of a badly wounded victim. At one point, in the middle of the gun battle between police and the terrorists, his son ventured outside to get help—only to be shooed back inside by police.
“Had he turned right, he would have run into the terrorists, with 12-inch knives,” Dr. Kindschuh recalls. “He was probably the last potential victim they saw. Instead, he turned left, fortunately, and that decision was fate.”
His son was pulled back inside the bar by an employee, who locked the door just as the terrorists ran by, trying to get in. His son then used his canvas belt to apply pressure to the victim’s head wound to stem the bleeding until help arrived. The victim survived.
“He said, ‘Dad, it was just instinct. I didn’t think. It was just instinct.’” Dr. Kindschuh says. His son’s actions even received local media attention on WABC-Channel 7 (click here for the report).
Interestingly, days before traveling to London, Dr. Kindschuh’s son signed his commission papers to officially join the Army ROTC.
“In my heart of hearts, I know wherever he is, he’ll be fine,” Dr. Kindschuh says. “He didn’t have to figure this out. He just acted. He made the right decision—to be in that environment where quick thinking and responding to falling comrades is part of the greatest commitment one can make to another. So Mark is in the right place.”
Dr. Kindschuh, who raised his family in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, says his son’s decision to join ROTC was likely affected by his vivid memories of Sept. 11, 2001, when he was four years old.
“He saw the towers fall from the piers in Bay Ridge,” he says. “That’s a memory he grew up with. I believe his journey toward that (ROTC) commitment grew from his early childhood experiences.”