Ham Provides Rescue Support at Utah Marathon
While not as well known as the Boston and New York City Marathons, Utah's St George Marathon draws more than 7000 runners to the town of St George -- located 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, near the Utah-Arizona-Nevada border -- each year. The race, now in its 33rd year, uses shuttle vans equipped with Amateur Radio operators and medical personnel to provide any help and support needed along its course. On October 3 -- race day -- Brian Plumb, KE7HNW, was driving Shuttle #3, with Kathy Hutchinson, a cardiac nurse at a local hospital, by his side.
A member of the Dixie Amateur Radio Club (DARC) and the Washington County (Utah) ARES®, Plumb got his Amateur Radio license in 2006. According to his friend, Hal Whiting, KI2U, Plumb has been involved with Boy Scouts for more than 25 years, but desired to "give back" a bit more to his community, and so became a licensed radio amateur.
On Friday, October 2, Plumb went to go pick up the van, getting it ready and making sure he had his radio and everything else he might need during the race. As he was leaving, he realized he had not received an automated external defibrillator (AED), so race officials went back and got him one. "We were the only van -- and there were six vans -- that ended up with an AED," Plumb told the ARRL.
Plumb and Hutchinson had never met prior to the marathon, and this was the first marathon for both of them. "We started driving up and down the highway," Plumb said, "stopping to help anyone in need and helping those that thought they had the desire to even try running, for some reason couldn't finish the race. Kathy and I had just dropped off a van load of runners at the transition area at mile marker 24, turned around and were getting ready to go up the highway again when everything happened -- a lady ran up to us and said there was a runner who had collapsed just up the road and he needed our help."
"As we approached the runner, we saw that he was down," Plumb recounted. "Kathy grabbed the oxygen and I grabbed the AED machine. When we got there, the runner wasn't doing well. With the help of another runner (who happened to be a fire fighter), Kathy gave him oxygen and we started doing CPR. The police were on the scene and they called 911 for an ambulance."
Plumb told the ARRL that the 48 year old man "had no pulse. He was gone. So I got the AED set up and I 'shocked' him and his heart began beating again. He was then transported to the hospital via ambulance. The EMTs told us that if we had not been there when we were there and with an AED, he would have been gone, he was so out of it totally and could not have been be revived."
Later, Plumb learned from Hutchinson -- the runner had been taken to her hospital -- that the man and his family wanted to meet him. "I went there on the Monday after the race," he told the ARRL, "and said 'Hi, I'm Brian.' I didn't give my last name or call sign or anything like that, and they all asked, 'Are you the radio ham guy?' They knew that Amateur Radio had helped save their family member." Plumb said that the man is out of the hospital and seems to be doing fine.
Plumb said that just before the woman called for their help, he and Hutchinson had been discussing how they needed to be prepared for anything that could happen on the course. He is grateful to have fully prepared at the marathon: "I had the right equipment, the right nurse and the right training to have been able to help. Learning to be an Amateur Radio operator, giving service and the ideals of Scouting to 'be prepared' has helped myself and many others in giving service to our community at large."