North Central News

From the classroom to the Chicago Marathon finish line

Master of Athletic Training faculty and students provide assistance to Chicago Marathon runners

by Kara Kots

Dec 06, 2023

Student, faculty, and alumni representatives from North Central College’s Master of Athletic Training (MAT) program served as part of a mobile triage team to respond to distressed runners after they finished the 2023 Chicago Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 8, which welcomed more than 47,000 participants.

For more than 20 years, North Central has provided a group of volunteers at the event, which attracts thousands of runners from across the globe. Acting as the first line of help, students draw from their classroom knowledge and experiences while aiding people of all ages and backgrounds in collaboration with an interdisciplinary medical team that includes physicians, nurses, paramedics, and mental health professionals, as well as healthcare students from other institutions.

This year, the North Central volunteers included students Antonio Garcia ’25, Jennifer Garcia ’25, Nina Guitron ’25, Marlena Osterhues ’25, Abby Pyburn ’25, and Claire Urchell ’25; faculty Taylor Arman, assistant professor of athletic training and clinical education coordinator; Dr. Scott Ellis, assistant professor of athletic training; and alumna Emily O’Toole ’15.

“When a runner is identified as needing help, we assess them to determine the level of medical care they need and facilitate their care,” said Arman. “You never know when someone may need medical attention, but we are responsible for identifying any emergent or life-threatening signs and symptoms and delivering high-quality, coordinated care.”

One volunteer at the 27th mile mark was Jennifer Garcia, a first-year student in North Central’s MAT program. She responded to calls to assist runners who were experiencing symptoms such as cramping, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and feeling light-headed. Garcia also helped runners cool down safely after completing the race, encouraging them to keep walking, so they would avoid a rapid blood pressure decrease. Garcia said, “It was very important to tell the runners to keep walking and sometimes even walk beside them to encourage them to keep going.”

Aiming to prepare students to work in a variety of settings, students in North Central’s MAT program graduate with the skills needed to deliver the highest quality patient‐centered and evidence‐based healthcare to their patients. They become practice-ready thanks to a comprehensive curriculum and hands-on experiences, from local community work to serving at world-class events like the Chicago Marathon, assisting individuals from around the world.
“My time at North Central has prepared me well for my career,” said Garcia. “We are challenged every day, but this challenge only makes us build more confidence to become well-educated athletic trainers.”

Learn more about North Central College’s MAT program and how the program successfully prepares future health professionals.

North Central College Master of Athletic Training students near the finish line at the Chicago Marathon.

North Central College Master of Athletic Training students near the finish line at the Chicago Marathon.