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Amateur Radio Volunteers Turn Out En Masse to Support Chicago Marathon


A huge turnout of Amateur Radio volunteers supported communications on October 12 for the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and its 2000 volunteer medical teams. For the first time this year, the Amateur Radio volunteers also shadowed the nine triage units that attended to runners within Grant Park, the marathon’s finish line. The hams communicated with the ambulance service, if further medical support was needed. Some of the 120 radio amateurs taking part in the event ended up walking as many as nine miles just within the park during their volunteer stints. Some 45,000 runners from every US state and more than 100 countries took part in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Approximately 2.5 million onlookers also enjoyed the ideal weather.

This marked the sixth year that the ham radio community has supported this event. Operators came from four states and from cities as far away as Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Indianapolis, Indiana; Peoria, Illinois, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Twelve local ham radio clubs were represented.

The ham radio volunteers made use of six local repeaters and several simplex channels, starting off at 6:30 AM on race day — to let organizers know when the medical teams were on site and to assure that medical services and supplies were in place and ready. Eight operators worked at the Forward Command tent, side by side with event officials, Chicago City Services and other agencies, to provide health-and-welfare traffic to the physician in charge as well as with the medical logistics teams and the ambulance service.

The 120 radio amateurs were among some 12,000 volunteers. Rob Orr, K9RST, who serves as the volunteer lead, has already put out the call for volunteers at next year’s marathon. — Thanks to ARRL Illinois Section News via The ARES E-Letter




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