21 April 2013

2013 Boston Marathon First Aid Walking Team Boston - Commonwealth Ave. from Hereford St.

Red Cross Marathon Race Course First Aid Walking Team, 'Fox-2-6-alpha'*. Here, volunteers EMT-Basic/Ski Patroller/Firefighter Brian C. (L) & Ham Radio Operator Bill head west toward our station (F26) on Commonwealth Ave. from Hereford St., the famous right turn to Boylston St. and the finish line. I'm part of the Walking Team and taking up the rear while shooting photos like this one at 12:42 EST.

*A "Go-Team" or "Walking-Team" usually consists of personnel from a first aid station, usually an EMT, a first responder or first aid/CPR certified volunteer and an emergency communications ham radio operator. 

Go-teams are dispatched to official and unofficial reports of a "down runner" or other medical need along the route on either side of the station. "Walking Teams" routinely go a 1/4-mile or so from the station as a medical support presence for athletes, law enforcement, spectators and course officials on the race route.- JCG 
(I am a Red Cross volunteer, certified Ski Patrol Outdoor Emergency Care Technician & a former working EMT).

16 April 2013

American Red Cross Course Medical Station #F26 117th Boston Marathon

Opinions are my own.
I just want to say that we had an amazing crew at our Red Cross First Aid (medical) Station. For background, last year, I joined the American Red Cross of Northeast MA Board of Directors. I began to re-involve in disaster services. I have volunteered for the BAA Marathon all these years, though, now about 30 years serving on its first aid stations.

One of my board goals is to increase the number of local volunteers in the Merrimack Valley area where I live in Massachusetts. I invited fellow ski patrollers at Ski Bradford to join me at the marathon. Three ski patrollers took me up on it (in addition to their ski patrol Outdoor Emergency Care Technician certifications, 2 are EMT's and one is an Emergency Room RN). One of the EMT's is also a firefighter. He brought his fire chief, also an experienced EMT.

Our station, F26 had two official Ham (amateur) radio operators who are part of the ARES program (Amateur Radio Emergency Service - ARES). Two others at F26 had ham licenses and radios with them as supplementary communications (I just upgraded my Ham license too, but alas, my new radio is still being shipped).

Note that to work at any Red Cross activity, you must file an application and have certain requisites for the function, which are usually through ARC training programs. If you are interested in looking at programs such as disaster relief or first aid stations (Health & Safety Services), I urge you to complete the online general volunteer application and contact me through this blog or the Eastern MA Red Cross Volunteer office (or your local chapter volunteer office): American Red Cross General Volunteer Application link

Boston EMS bike crews responded it seems in seconds to F26 when we called for them via our Ham operators. The bus (ambulance) response times were very good, too. The F26 area State Police contingent were as always, professional, engaging and protective as you might expect. When we went on our "go team" walks (1 EMT, 1 First Responder, 1 Ham) up and down the course, about 1/4 mile either way, the Boston PD were all smiles, engaging and interested in us and our activity. We are truly all one team, just as we are all "1Boston." Donate to help: the onefundboston

Also, and this is new, the spectators along Commonwealth Ave. applauded us a number of times. We were just walking, not doing anything in particular, but they cheered "Red Cross!" When we got a downed runner up and back on course, the cheers as always went up for the runner and the Red Cross.

Regarding the explosions, Red Cross Marathon Course Medical Station # F26 is the last station on the course and less than a mile from the finish line. We heard the explosion, and the MA State Police at our station started checking for information and the source. They clearly recognized the percussion sound was not a normal situation.

Now, our Team at F26 was smaller than I am used to at other stations, and I understand that this is normally a relatively quiet station, being so close to the Finish, if a runner makes it to mile 25.5, you can be pretty sure they'll get to Boylston Street no-matter-what.

Yesterday, though, the runners were stopped 200 yards down course on Commonwealth Ave. at the Massachusetts Ave. overpass, The pack quickly backed up to us, I think this may have been the peak  or near-peak of the race pack around 3:15 PM. We gave out all of our Mylar-type (space) blankets and we started to use garbage bags to keep the runners warm, now that the sea breeze was kicking in and the air temp was about 50 degrees F.

We had a number of more serious cases on our cots. Out of the blue, five more volunteers showed up from station F07. Four EMT's and another first aider. Then, a BAA credentialed RN/Psych. nurse appeared at the station asking to help. An M.D. from the finish line had completed triage after the explosions and there was nothing left she could do there. We were the first station she came to, and asked to keep helping (she became our medical director), another R.N./Ham Radio operator (with a radio!) walked in - same story -- asking if he could help us. We had a Gold Star Team, we had never worked together before, but we worked together now without rehearsal or drill. We reconfigured our operation with a medical control, triage/ambulatory tent, treatment/non-ambulatory tent, and supervisor control point/tent, and executed everything we are trained to do.The majority of activity was calming and warming people exposed to the cooling air temperature and breeze. But, the process was set up and we were able to process many walking athletes, and I believe we prevented more serious hypothermia cases.

The RN/Psych nurse observed, interceded and supported those in distress, the M.D. directed and treated, the Ham/RN supported the MD, the EMTs initiated care and were supported by the first aiders/first responders, and Gabe, our Records and Reports volunteer (R & R) who kept everything documented and organized; and all personnel supported patient care and triage.

Walter, the station supervisor maintained station direction, Hams handled communication and supervisor status reports to Net Control and ambulance requests as intended. I am so proud of these people and to be part of this Red Cross Organization. There was no tragedy at F26, there was pure professionalism and proof positive that the training works. I recall the Latin, "In Ardua ad Astra", "Working against adversity." We did, and the team made it all come out OK for the runners and spectators on Comm. Ave. at Charlesgate East. See you next year at the 118th Boston Marathon, or sooner if YOU become a part of our team.