2007 L.A. Marathon Brings People Together

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 |

The Los Angeles Fire Department, in conjunction with other City agencies, volunteers, and event organizers devoted a significant amount of time preplanning the various aspects of the 22nd Annual Los Angeles Marathon. A Unified Command was implemented and strategically positioned at the City's "Piper Tech" facility including, 6 Battalion Command Teams, 14 EMS Supervisors, 25 Fire Apparatus, 14 ALS Rescues, 12 BLS Rescue Ambulances, 6 Bicycle Teams, and 2 “Gator” teams, under the command of Assistant Chief Ralph Terrazas.

In an effort to provide rapid Paramedic intervention during a medical emergency, the LAFD deployed six Bicycle Paramedic Teams and two “gator” Teams. The “gator” teams consisting of two Paramedics operating a six-wheeled All Terrain Vehicle outfitted with Advanced Life Support tools, a “med bed” anchored to the vehicle providing a platform for patient care, and other crucial equipment. The agile response of both the “gator” and cycle teams, enabled firefighters to bridge the gap between foot patrol and rescue ambulances to provide paramedics the opportunity to navigate crowds, circumvent traffic, and deliver critical care with greater ease.

Throughout the day, along the twenty-six mile route, and at the med-station positioned near the finish line, well over one hundred patients were treated for various medical problems including, musculoskeletal injuries and a variety of heat-related emergencies, amplified by the combination of heat and humidity this year. Of the numerous patients treated, most were assessed, treated onscene and released by the men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department as their condition improved. Only 20-25 patients required transport to local hospitals for further medical evaluation. Regretfully, one of the participants did loose their life during this event.

At the intersection of Catalina and Exposition Blvd. Firefighters were called to render aide to a 50 year old male who suffered a cardiac arrest while competing as a cyclist in this years strenuous marathon. Paramedics arrived quickly, rendering the highest level of Advanced Cardiac Life Support and transporting the critical patient within 15 minutes. Sadly, the man was pronounced dead upon delivery to California Hospital.

The firefighters assigned to the Los Angeles Marathon took pride in the opportunity to support the competitive athelete as well as those people visiting our fine city, some for the very first time, to share our vision during this global event as we interact within the diversity of cultures, ready to render aide and emotional support should a crisis develop.

One such crisis was avoided when, at approximately the 22 mile marker, a participant of the wheelchair portion of the race was potentially sidelined when the battery pack feeding his motorized ride rendered him immobile. As a last ditch effort, two boys pushed the 18 year old, with cerebral palsey, toward a nearby Fire Apparatus for a solution.

Engineer Joe Everett of Fire Station 37, having been a past marathon participant, decided to forgo recharging the defunct battery. The determined Engineer, remebering the pride he had felt when he finished a past race, was undeterred by his cumbersome steel-toed boots and uniform; choosing instead to push the boy the 3.2 miles to the marathon’s end. The twosome formed a lasting friendship as they crossed the finish line triumphantly together.

Submitted by Melissa Kelley
Los Angeles Fire Department


Anonymous said...

For the next marathon, for people in powered chairs, pease consider haqving welding machines standing by to quickly charge batteries. Not to distract from the FF's great support but it would give the wheelchair bound participant a greater sense of having done it. Just a thought.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...


Thanks for the note. We strongly agree (in most circumstances) that those who have trained for months to compete in the marathon should be assisted in a minimally invasive way when they seek such aid.

Certainly, each participant is encouraged to network before the race within their specific arena of need, and to work collectively in creating and sustaining the support systems necessary to complete their particular quest.

While Firefighters are for example, unable to suggest a particular brand of spare tire for bicycle racers or special battery for electric wheelchairs, we encourage those considering the marathon to plan ahead - yet also not be afraid or embarrassed to reach out to Firefighters on race day when they have a question or concern.

Clearly the situation facing LAFD Engineer Joe Everett was unique, and barring any safer or more obvious answer to the racer's needs, we remain *darn* proud of his personal initiative and willingness to do whatever it took to 'make the magic happen'.

Oh, and speaking of safe....

While we'll admit that the welder suggestion is new to us, the LAFD can only endorse following the wheelchair manufacturer's written instructions for charging and maintaining as complex a device as an electric wheelchair.

If any of our blog readers have suggestions on how the marathon can be more effective or efficient in supporting all participants, we ask you to contact event organizers via lamarathon.com

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

redcup56 said...


I want to pass along my condolences to the family of the participant who passed away, and thank to the LAFD members who did their best to prevent the loss of life.

Kudos to Engineer Everett for his assistance to the wheelchair participant.

I also wanted to mention (and thank) the veterans referenced in the other blog entry.

Lastly, I'm glad the blog continues to live.

Stay safe,

Portland, OR

Anonymous said...

The story of the LAFD deployment at the LA marathon didn't include the numerous LAFD CERT people who assisted for the first 5 miles of the run with AEDs in case of need, then at the finish where they kept an eye out for runners who needed medical care. For extreme cases, paramedics were called to assist, or CERT brought the runners to the medical tent.

They also supported the runners who didn't need the medical tent, but had to be "hot walked" for recovery.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 12:18,

Thanks for the note.

With so much happening that day, please know that the failure to mention the many volunteers supporting LAFD operations, including but not limited to those with CERT training, was not intentional.

We're genuinely struggling with an at times oppressive volume of work, and the person who posted the Marathon XXII story is herself serving in a 'voluntary' capacity until the vacant position in our leanly staffed office is filled.

Please know that when time permits, and especially once we get our RSS feeds squared away (they automatically send out any post with typo corrections, etc as a brand *new* story!), one of us will try to include CERT, ACS and the many other volunteers in our on-line posting.

Thanks again for all that you and other CERT trained volunteers do year-round in helping us keep Los Angeles safe.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

As a LA CERT member I can say that I had a great time out at the marathon finish line! This year, CERT had about 30 members out there working hand in hand with LAFD and other volunteer agencies. We look forward to working the event again next year!


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