10K Races and Monday Morning Commutes

Yesterday morning I was up and wide awake (okay, maybe not *wide* awake) at 6:00 a.m. Why would I do this to myself on a Sunday morning you ask? Well that’s simple.

To run the Joe Kleinerman 10K race at 8:00 a.m. in 30ish degree weather! The race itself was fine (freezing, but fine). What happened before the race was not; a man (spectator it looked like) collapsed and started having what looked like a seizure right next to the runner’s corral where Anthony and I were waiting to start. The race was just about to start, so the National Anthem was actually playing at this time. The man then stopped moving, and a couple people had caught him as he fell to the ground. All of the runners in our area started yelling “doctor! Medic! We need a doctor!” and a few runners jumped out of the corral to go help. One of them started doing chest compressions and looked like she knew what she was doing; in the meantime, another race start-up song started playing and the announcers clearly had no clue what was happening even though a lot of yelling for a doctor or medic was happening.

NYRR has medics and ambulances on-site at every race, and after waiting several minutes (literally, this guy was down and not moving the whole time while some of the runners were administering CPR on him), I got out of the corral and sprinted towards the finish line where I knew there would be a medical team. This path took me past the starting line where the announcers were still clueless about what was happening, and I started shouting that we needed the medics. One of the NYRR volunteers stopped me and told me they were on their way; so, I went back to the starting line where we were. A few more minutes went by, and we still didn’t see any (so I am annoyed that I listened to the volunteer instead of just running to the finish line and telling the medics myself what was happening). There was already a big crowd around the man by this point (not good in itself), and since there was nothing Anthony and I could do for him directly (my CPR and first aid certifications have been expired for years), we started the race.

Finally at this time the announcer starts broadcasting that they needed a defib at the starting line. About 200 meters into the course we finally see the medics headed the opposite way with a stretcher and equipment. The problem? Instead of using the outer lane where there are no runners, they were attempting to go in the opposite direction of the runners, which undoubtedly slowed them down. Tack on some more minutes to the response time of a medical team maybe 400 meters away. This is not okay. I don’t know who dropped the ball (NYRR, the medics, or both), but a 7-8 minute response time with a medical team maybe 400 meters away should not have happened. I have no idea what happened to this man, or if he’s even still alive (CPR was still being administered when we started the race), but I was severely disappointed in this response to the medical emergency that I witnessed at this race.

But now, it’s Monday morning, and I started off my 6-day work week (working on Saturday too) as just about anyone living in NYC does: I brushed past an idiot woman who was standing on the top of the subway stairs just yapping on her cell phone during the 8-9 a.m. rush hour and she bellows out “what?!? Are you just gonna SHOVE me down the stairs???” I yelled back “I BARELY touched you!!! (which was true)” and went on my way, but a better answer might have been simply “yes”. Who chooses the top of the subway stairs during the morning rush hour to chat on their cell phone?

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2 responses to “10K Races and Monday Morning Commutes

  1. I’m just going to throw this out there – Even I know not to stop at the top of the subway stairs and I’ve been to NYC exactly one time.

    Also, similar situation happened to my sister at a bar in Memphis, TN. She, being a nurse, had to jump to the aid of the man because everyone else responded “he’s probably just drunk”. The guy fell out of his chair and wasn’t breathing/moving and my sister happened to notice that since she’d gotten there he’d only had 1 beer so it was impossible that the situation was that he just passed out. She got down and took his pulse and started doing CPR and trying to wake him up – turns out she found that he had tried to overdose in the bar. He took an entire bottle of some prescription sleep aid and then walked into the bar and ordered a beer. She had her friend call 911 since no one else would and she kept him alive. The owner of the bar was called and he gave her a pass for free drinks for life.

    I’m insanely impressed with the New Yorkers that tried to help while the medics sucked at life. The southerners certainly dropped the ball – so much for southern hospitality.

  2. Mmhmmm, we may be a hurried, snarky, over-caffeinated city of 8 million, but when one of us goes down we are ALL over that. There had to be at least 100 of us in the surrounding area yelling at the announcers that we needed a medic! Too bad the actual people in charge didn’t seem to notice that there was an emergency!

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