I participated in the Baltimore Marathon today. It was not, thankfully, in the run 26miles or die trying kind of participating though.
The Marathon organizers use amateur radio operators to help coordinate what is happening; track racers, pass information to the finish lines from different water stops, and handle other logistics related efforts. I was assigned to a combined water stop and first aid tent. We were at the half-way point in the course.
I got there about 7:15 this morning and checked in with the water stop captain and medical team leader. Our medical team leader, it turns out, took a nasty fall off a loading dock while gathering supplies for the race and had, what we are pretty sure was, a broken wrist. Since she was the only one with a medical license assigned to the team she had one of the med students splint it and she dealt with it until the location was secured.
The med tent was set up a slight distance from the water stop. Since the water stop was staffed by a club I had never heard of and the Med tent was being handled by a bunch of med students and a couple staff from Hopkins, and we happened to have a crew from Lifestar and their shiny, flashy unit there, I set myself up with the people who’s stories I figured would be more interesting. :-).
Sheesh. I sound like some sort of EMS groupie.
After he informed us that the Gateraid had been mixed in a trash can (which spawned a discussion of trash can punch and a mutual agreement to avoid the Gateraid) I had a good chat with a Baltimore police officer before the race. He asked about Amateur Radio, being under the impression that I was going to be doing some sort of broadcasting. I told him about our role in public service events and what we would be providing for the race. I was actually surprised that more people knew what Amateur Radio was and how active we were in disasters. A couple of the medics answered questions from the other medical providers before I could.
We stood around for a while and chatted until the runners came through. Not a whole lot happened, aside from me passing a request for toilet paper for the porta-potties. A request that could not be filled. Eww. ??
We secured a little before 12:00 and I started walking up to catch the Light Rail. I had kept the radio on and heard one of the hams at the stadium (where the start/finish, primary medical, and everything else was located) trying to helpanother ham get over there to fill a vacant position. He eventually decided he couldn’t get through due to traffic. I offered to head up there, figuring I would be more mobile on foot. It took about 25 minutes to walk down there and another 20 to get through the enormous crowd gathered to watch the finish line. I eventually made it through, met up with our coordinator, and staffed the Information Tent (with PD/FD/Public Works, and race coordinators) for the duration.
It was a good day. Communications went relatively smoothly, I finally got back into doing public service events, met some cool people, and even managed to dispell a few misconceptions about Amateur Radio, and blindness along the way.