April 18, 2023

National Volunteer Week: Medical

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Did you know that our Volunteers tracked 17,027.9 hours in 2022? From virtual packing to finish line Hospitality, our events are filled with the incredible people supporting the Marine Corps, the community, our runners and our organization. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we wanted to highlight the various roles of the individuals that make this well-oiled engine go. Even introduce you to a few!

Without our volunteers, we couldn’t do it. It’s as simple as that.

Medical Volunteers

When it comes to running an event, it does not matter if the weather is perfect, extremely warm or horribly cold, a medical incident is always a possibility when it comes to physical exercise. There are many events that we have seen over the years showcasing that someone may be in great physical health one minute but still experiences a medical emergency the next. This can be exacerbated in less-than-ideal conditions. Therefore, it is extremely vital that our runners know they are safe in every aspect of their running journey with us, especially when it comes to their health.

MCMO makes it a priority to fill all medical volunteer positions with certified professionals who are vetted before each event.

Aid Stations

Traditionally positioned every couple miles along the route, Aid Stations are placed and staffed based on their location. For example, one earlier in the course may not have as many individuals as one in a more challenging area of the run. MCMO events range from one to 15 stations staffed by 25 to over 100 individuals from the start of a course to the finish. When it comes to an endurance sport, Aid Station Volunteers can be responsible for dressing a scrapped knee to dealing with a possible life-threatening situation.

MCMO is fortunate to have many trusted volunteers who consistently help event after event. One of these is Joel Bannister. A United States Navy Veteran, Bannister began working with MCMO when previously stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico from 2009 to 2011. After separating from the Navy, he began volunteering again in 2019. Bannister’s experience and expertise has been valuable to MCMO, where he most recently served as the Officer In Charge (OIC) at the 2023 Marine Corps 17.75K Start/Finish Medical Tent.

MCM Aid Station

“I missed certain aspects of the military, especially being part of Navy medicine,” said Bannister. “Volunteering is a great way to be part of the community again.”  

It’s that community that inspires Bannister to continue supporting events. “I always enjoy when past runners come to the medical tent to tell us how we were able to help them during past races,” expressed Bannister. “Along with the stories, the spectators bring an electric environment to the races.”

roaming assistance

In addition to those at the Aid Stations, other medical professionals ride along the route in a Light Utility Vehicle (LUV). These roving teams are able to assist with any participants who may need medical care in between the set Aid Stations. Often staffed by regional supporting agencies, these LUVs have been vital to a participant’s survival.

Also, at events such as MCM Weekend, the American Red Cross sets up “Go” Teams. These medical professionals are on foot throughout the Finish Festival watching for individuals that may need assistance.

Additionally, the “Psyching Team” is there to help participants at pre-determined locations along the route. As we all know, taking on a marathon can be mentally daunting, and these individuals are there to help keep you in a successful headspace as you prepare for the journey ahead. Their expertise is also provided following the wear blue: run to remember mile located around the halfway mark at Hains Point. This somber mile can be hard on someone emotionally and mentally, especially along the more desolate area of the course. The “Psyching Team” is there to help.

Medical Supporting Agencies

With so many moving parts, the support of our local and regional agencies is invaluable. This operation does not happen without each and every one. We would be amiss if we did not appreciate these amazing partners:

American Red Cross
Arlington County Fire and Emergency Medical Services
District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services
Fredericksburg Fire and Emergency Medical Services
Prince William County Fire and Emergency Medical Services
Quantico Fire and Emergency Medical Services

Regional Hospitals:

George Washington University Hospital
Georgetown University Hospital
Howard University Hospital
INOVA Alexandria Hospital
Mary Washington Health Care
Sibley Memorial Hospital
Virginia Hospital Center
Washington Hospital Center

And of course, our Sailors, who are beloved here at MCMO:

Naval Medical Readiness and Training Command Quantico
Naval personnel from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Hospital

“Medical Volunteers are the best. Many of our volunteers have become personal friends and professional colleagues. Their empathy, compassion and support of all participants is beyond amazing,” expressed Shelly Weinstein, MCMO medical coordinator. “We could not care for our runners without their support.”

MCM Medical

“Don’t be afraid to volunteer, especially if you are interested in acute care medicine. These are great races which will give you plenty of experience,” stated Bannister. “If you aren’t interested the medical aspect of volunteering, there are plenty of roles that can still make you part of the team.”

“Creating memorable, achievement-oriented, experiences for our participants is the mission of the Marine Corps Marathon Organization. A mission that’s enabled by the dedication of over 2,300 volunteers who support every phase of each event on an annual basis,” expressed Alex Hetherington, MCMO director. “The “must do, will do, can do” reputation of the United States Marine Corps is what inspires both our runners and volunteers, and is the essential difference in quality and degree which defines Marine Corps Marathon Events!”

We cannot offer our desired experience without a top-notch medical team. Here’s to each of you. Thank You.

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