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Ham radio operators assist in Boilermaker

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Ham Radio Operators have been assisting with communication efforts for the Utica Boilermaker since the very first race, and their participation continues to be an important part of public safety.

UTICA, N.Y. -- Thousands of runners will gather to participate in the Utica Boilermaker this weekend. Most of the runners have likely trained for the day, but there are some runners who might need help during the race.

Ham radio operators are tasked with spotting runners who look like they aren’t doing so well. Utica Amateur Radio Club President Ed Kobos talked about what they look for. 

"You can actually look at people’s eyes, and you can tell if they’re going to need help, and there are some people that obviously will need help crossing the finish line," said Kobos.

Ed is one of the Ham Radio Operators that will be helping with communication efforts during the race. He explains why Ham Radios are particularly useful for this kind of an event.

"Well Cell phones you can talk to one person at a time, but using ham radio all of us can be listening at the same time so we can find out what’s going on, and if you see particularly a runner with a number that you recognize, you can relay that information."

When the Ham Radio Operators spot someone who looks like they may need help they relay that runners number down the line. Others will then watch for that runner so Emergency personnel can be ready should that runner need medical assistance. While spectators are there to watch the race, these volunteers are there specifically to watch for a runner who needs help. Boilermaker Ham Radio Coordinator Bob Decker says it happens more than you might think.

"Oh yeah on a regular basis we’ve provided that information to the EMS people when we’ve had those types of situations occur."

When an injury does occur the job of the Ham Radio Operator isn’t over. Medical personnel have their job to do, and can’t be distracted with the task of finding family and friends. Kobos explains where this line of communication comes in handy.

"As soon as we get people into the first aid tent, we go through and relay that information to the reunion area in case people are looking for their friends or relatives so that they know that they are either in the first aid tent or not in the first aid tent."

There will be about 30 Ham Radio Operators set up along the race course, and all will be wearing a Boilermaker Volunteer shirt. 

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