Westcoast Amateur Radio Association provides race communications for the Victoria Marathon (a Boston Marathon qualifier), held on Thanksgiving Sunday, and the Times-Colonist 10k Run in April. A roster of 46+ members, municipal emergency program radio groups and area hams provide checkpoint support, lead car reporting, van dispatch for tired runners, lost children coordination, medical aid and emergency calls.
Currently, the Victoria Emergency Management Agency Comms Van V29 is used for the command post. It is well equipped with multiple VHF/UHF ham radios, phones, commercial radios, computers, printers, and space for a 3 operator dispatch team. Shifts start as early as 0500 and end at 1430, which makes for a long and often tiring but exciting day.
Both races are large with registrations of up to 15000. Hundreds of radio calls are logged by the dispatch team. Radio dispatched bike paramedics and St. John first aiders patrol the race, and 5 teams of volunteer doctors on bikes keep in touch by cell phone. At the Finish Line, a well-equipped field medical tent is staffed by doctors, nurses, and paramedics. Click on icon to read the complete article.
This is the second year that we have used an off-site medical dispatch centre incorporating BC Ambulance, St. John Ambulance and Marathon Comms co-located at the BCAS regional HQ. This proves very efficient in getting medical assistance and transport for injured and exhausted runners. The open “party line” permits both dispatchers to listen to race comms and deploy their members more effectively and promptly.
We assign a radio team to work at the Kids Zone tent to manage the Lost Children function. During a typical day, you never know how many kids and parents will be separated. The goal is to have a single location where everyone can be reunited. Race Security assists with larger scale missing person reports, and in the end, everyone seems to get found.
The race committee and local emergency services are well aware of the benefit of having a dedicated and proficient Amateur Radio team supporting major racing events. We consider the experience to be an emergency communications training opportunity and I would like to thank all the volunteers for their dedication and tremendous effort.
Thanks again for everyone’s assistance, 73 Alan Mallett, Public Service Director, WARA