Oh, no, I’m not running the NYC Marathon this year. I’m gearing up to be one of the many medical volunteers that day! Last night the Medical Director (Dr. Stuart Weiss) held an orientation session which, I have to say, was pretty great. It covered some basics about the race, some common injuries we were likely to see, procedures and record-keeping, and what to do in case the race needs to be stopped for whatever reason (basically pull flags across the course and have runners stop so they don’t all start crashing into each other).
We also got a Medical Manual (a booklet of info and maps) plus our bright red medical volunteer t-shirts and jackets. Overall, it was incredibly well-organized and infinitely more structured than the way the medical volunteering went for the 18-miler. Dr. Weiss mentioned that supplies in the tents reflected what volunteers in the past had requested, and that he pushed hard this year to have red jackets made for all the medical volunteers so they were easily identifiable. The one big thing we haven’t gotten yet is our assignments for race day, which they said would come in an email later, so I don’t know where I’ll be along the course yet. I do know that if I get my finish line request, I’ll have a 12-hour shift!
Last night I was surprised by two things – just how freaking many med volunteers there were (we filled the NYU Skirball Center, which holds about 900 people, and this was just one of two orientation nights) and how freaking young they were! As an Old, everyone looks young to me these days, but I also overheard some nurses in the line behind me saying that most of the volunteers were med students (not sure how they knew that, but since they’re nurses I assume they know everything). I also had to laugh when they covered scene safety in the presentation, since that’s drilled so hard in EMT training, but I realized
a lot most of the people there we not emergency medicine folks but had other specialties, so scene safety would be a good reminder to them when they’re used to an examining room instead of the side of a road.
While there will be hundreds of professional EMTs and paramedics along the course in their ambulances, past statistics indicate those ambulances are mercifully mostly unused. Of the approximately 50,000 runners, about 5,000 will stop at some point for medical care, but only about 20 people out of that 5,000 end up needing to go to the hospital. The finishing rate of the NYC Marathon is also incredibly high, as 99.2% of those that start will finish. See, finishing a marathon is easier than eating a Cinnabon!*
If you are running NYC this year, good luck and have fun, and I hope to see you happy and healthy at the finish!
Are you running a fall marathon this year? Have you ever visited the medical tent during or after a race? When’s the last time you ate a Cinnabon? Share in the comments!