Yesterday amateur radio operators from across the island assisted with the radio communications for the 45th annual Honolulu Marathon.
I was assigned to Aid Station #12 located at the 25.5 mile marker of the race course, which is the last place for first aid and medical care before the finish line.
I arrived at Kapiolani Park at 3:00am to start getting my communications equipment set up and the medical team started arriving around 4:00 to get ready for the start of the race.
At 5:00 the early morning Waikiki skyline was lit up with fireworks to signal the start of the race. Since Station #12 was located near the end of the course, it would be at least a couple hours before the racers made it to our station, or so we thought.
With the layout of the track, the racers actually past by our station twice. near the beginning of the race at just short of the 7 mile mark, and again near the end of the course, which means we got hit twice by the runners, on their way out and again on their way back in.
The medical staff was set up to work in shifts of a few hours. Unfortunately the radio operators were not set up to follow that plan and had to work their stations until their stations were secured for the day. Since I was at the last station, that meant I would be the last to secure my station.
Working public service events like this is good practice for emergency communications (EmComs) situations. Being the only radio operator at this station was a bit of a challenge at times with everything happening so fast.
Right off the bat we found there was an issue with the preferred VHF frequency that we had planned on using for our radio communications. Even though I was within just a couple blocks of the repeater tower, I could not get a clean connection to it, everyone else around the course was having the same issues. The Net Control Station decided to have us switch over to an alternate UHF frequency repeater which worked out quite well for the duration of the race.
I had to radio in the times of front-runners of each category of the race as they passed my station, while watching the race numbers on all of the runners passing by to pick out certain runners who were reported to be having problems in the race and the medical staff wanted us to keep an eye on them. I had to call in paramedics for two runners who were having medical issues and call for transportation for a few others who just physically could not continue the race.
On top of the stress I was under already, AMR Ambulance Service decided that our station needed to have one of their radios as well as my ham radio so that they could contact the medical staff at our station without going through Net Control. Unfortunately, none of the medical staff had any experience with radios and wanted nothing to do with running that radio so I got stuck with running both radios.