Millikin University athletic training students in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport (ESS) have the benefit of gaining practical learning experiences that build the skills necessary for becoming certified athletic trainers.
One of those experiences recently occurred for six athletic training students who volunteered as medical personnel at the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, held on Oct. 11.
Approximately 45,000 runners took to the streets for the Chicago Marathon, which covered 29 Chicago neighborhoods on a scenic tour of the city. It was the second year in a row that Millikin students volunteered at the marathon.
"This year was a different look for our students because we were put on a mobile triage team," said Thad Walker, Millikin ESS instructor. "We were given our own zone in the post finish line area to look after runners that completed the race. It's been an evolution where last year we were involved with the masses and this year we had our own area to be in charge of – it was a different experience for the students, but a good one."
The six students that volunteered were Brie Cimino, a senior from Homewood, Ill.; Justice Miller, a junior from Alsip, Ill.; Nick Novak, a sophomore from Bolingbrook, Ill.; Secily Moss, a senior from Pana, Ill.; Sarah Bradley, a senior from Decatur, Ill.; and Corryn Poby, a senior from Grant Park, Ill.
The area that the Millikin students were responsible for included three spotter towers. The spotters would notify the students of the patients that needed assistance.
"We also had the responsibility of being the ground level eyes," Walker said. "The students would be covering the entire zone and they would be looking for patients in distress."
"It gave us a lot of experience with things we may not see often and it definitely helped with developing our triage skills."
When the students identified a patient in distress they would perform an evaluation, such as a basic muscle stretch. If the patient was showing any severe symptoms the students would transport the patient to the main medical tent for further evaluations.
"It was amazing how many people from the medical team came together for the marathon," Corryn Poby said. "You have to think fast on your feet when working with the patients, and from a clinical standpoint, it was helpful to know the difference between someone who was in pain or someone who was tired from running 26 miles."
Walker noted, "It's a different population, especially for the students that hadn't done it before. The majority of patient encounters through our program are either on the Millikin campus with student-athletes or off campus with high school athletes. The Chicago Marathon draws 45,000 runners from all over the world. The students did very well and throughout the day they were exposed to different types of patients."
Alongside the Boston, New York, London, Berlin, and Tokyo Marathons, the Chicago Marathon is one of six World Marathon Majors. The running on Oct. 11 was the 38th anniversary of the race.
After volunteering for a second time, Brie Cimino felt the experience was rewarding. "It gave us a lot of experience with things we may not see often and it definitely helped with developing our triage skills. It was a good learning opportunity in terms of working with patients and deciding if something is an emergency or not."
Walker says the students learned many lessons from volunteering at the Chicago Marathon. "We work a track meet at Millikin with 10 people. During the marathon, the students were on a medical team with hundreds of people such as EMTs, nurses, physicians, athletic trainers and physical therapists. It's very much a multidisciplinary approach to health care at a big event and there are all sorts of lessons to learn as far as application, organization and communication."