Aid Station Volunteering, Twisted Branch Trail Run                                                  August 2019

Twisted Branch Aid Station Volunteering 101

So you’ve decided to be a volunteer at an aid station.  Thank you!  Now, what exactly is an aid station?  From a runner's standpoint, the aid stations exist so they have a place to get food and hydration.  From the race organizations standpoint, it gives us a place to check on the runners to make sure they are doing okay and make sure everyone is accounted for.

Be sure to spend some time studying all the sections of the website to learn as much as you can about the race. This will help you and will also make you a resource for other volunteers and most importantly, the runners.  

What to bring

Interacting with Runners

On the fun side

Setting up your aid station

Get familiar with your supplies.  Once you arrive you will want to set up the aid station right away.  

Helping Runners

Resupply:

Please identify whether or not you think you are running low on food, ice or water well before you run out – if need be, send someone to run for water.  Generally we will be able to resupply you but realize it can take a long time to get to you so keep an eye on food, water and supplies and call well in advance of it becoming an emergency.  

Closing Down the Aid Station:

Maps:

You will be provided a full set of course maps. Use these for reference during the event. However, these need to be returned at the end of the event.  

Crew maps will also be available.  These maps are designed to help show crews & spectators how to get to aid stations which allow crews.  I caution everyone on simply using the “fastest” route that GPS systems show you.  Often times these roads are seasonal roads and are not suited for ordinary cars.  In some cases there isn’t an option for doing a ‘K’ turn.

Headlamps/Flashlights

Headlamps are required to be used before sunrise, and after sunset.  This is important if you are working at the starting line, Clement Road AS#1 or Urbana AS#10

   

When runners reach aid station #1, Clement Road, we expect that many will want to ditch their headlamps. Runners may already have headlamps marked, or you will help them mark it with a numbered clip.  All headlamps will be put into a container.  Once you’ve collected all of these headlamps put the top on.  Someone will need to deliver this container to the Naples Creek Aid Station AS#2.

Estimated Sunrise: 6:30am

Estimated Sunset: 7:40pm

   

Tracking Runners

  You may be asked to help in tracking and/or timing runners.  There is a separate guide for this responsibility. However, I’d encourage you to note who is leading the race (male/female) at the time they’ve passed through.   Other runners behind may wonder how far ahead the leader is.  Don’t worry about exact numbers, this is just fun information to know and share during a race.  

Once all runners have passed through, you should then be expect to see the course sweeper.

Course Sweepers

  The sweepers follow the last runner down the trail.  They ensure runners are not stranded, lost or injured.  They also clear the course of all trail markings.  When the course sweeper arrives, make sure you review the runner checklist/timing tracking.  The aid station should be in agreement with the sweeper that all runners have successfully arrived and passed through.  Note - the course sweeper may have the ‘latest’ information about runners who may have dropped out of the race.

Once it has been confirmed that all runners have passed through or been accounted for, please call the race director to inform that the aid station is now CLOSED.

If needed, please assist in getting the course sweeper back to their car.

DNFs (did not finish, did nothing foolish):

Runners who drop or are pulled from the run at your aid station must have the bottom of their bib number torn off.  Please save all of these bib tags that you collect.  You will keep these with the timing device used at your aid station. ALL DNFs MUST BE REPORTED TO THE RACE DIRECTOR, as well as the course sweeper departing from your aid station.

 

Communication

Much of the course does not have quality cellular signal.  In many cases we will be using satellite phones to make sure that a person or aid station has the ability to communicate with the race organization or emergency services at anytime.  The Race director, Medical Director, and course sweepers will all be carrying a satellite phone throughout the day.

Please contact the Race director or medical director for any of the items below.  Don’t rely on a voicemail.

  We will provide you with contact information for other members of the organization. This information will be sent separately and be your specific job/shift.  

Medical/Safety Concerns:

We recognize that not all aid stations will have experienced EMT’s available.  Most issues that arise can be handled with the most basic first aid skills and a little common sense.

The best rule of thumb when providing first aid is to not hesitate in getting help when you realize you cannot provide what is needed.  Communicating with the medical personnel is your first requirement when dealing with a sick or injured person.

Most medical problems you will see will be minor: sunburn, blisters, sprains, abrasions and fatigue. You may also see runners in the later stages of the run who are extremely depleted in nutrition and dehydrated. Those runners who are in the back of the pack are often extremely fatigued and may be nauseated and may vomit. It is best to have them lie down, get them warm, and try to get them to slowly take fluids. Do not let them go on if they are confused or disoriented.

Again, get advice from a medical person if in doubt. Use your instincts and experience, but when in doubt, keep the runner warm, do not move if seriously injured, and ALWAYS GET HELP WHEN YOU THINK YOU NEED IT.

Any major incidents must be communicated with Race Director.  

 

*FIRST AID KITS – Your aid station has a basic first aid kit.  The kit will include, but not be limited to gauze, tweezers, scissors, athletic tape, moleskin, alcohol wipes, bandages, emergency blankets, medical tape, and non-latex gloves.   The course sweeper will also be carrying a small first aid kit.

Reporting Emergencies

If you need to engage with Emergency Services there are a few things to you need to know.  We have been working closely with area organizations regarding the Twisted Branch Trail Run.

The biggest challenge we face is communicating the location of the incident.  There are several ways to know the location where we may be in need of help.

a.) At an Aid Station:  All aid station GPS coordinates have been provided to 911 operators and are on the Aid station print out that you have. Have the map handy and be prepared to provide nearest cross streets.

b.) On the Trail, somewhere.  Have the trail map with you, and do your best to identify the nearest road, or access point to your location.

Cell Phone

                

                SAT Phone

Steps for engaging Emergency Services:

1.) Take a few deep breaths to make sure you are calm

2.) Dial the numbers 9-1-1.

3.) Sometimes it takes a while for the phone to route to the correct answering point; be patient.

4.) Listen to the dispatcher! The dispatcher is trained on what questions to ask.

5.) Do your best to provide your location. (see above)

6.) Follow the dispatcher's instructions while waiting for help to arrive.

7.) Trust that help is on the way, even if the dispatcher is still asking questions or giving instructions. Don't panic just because it seems like the conversation takes a long time.

REMEMBER: while the Communications Officer is still talking to you, they are also sending help.

Pulling a Runner

It may become necessary to consider pulling a runner due to their medical condition. Generally, if a runner is not fit to go on, they will feel so bad (weak, nauseated, tired) that it is unnecessary to pull them, because it is obvious, even to the runner, that they have a problem. However, when the runners signed in, they agreed to abide by the run rules, including this one, so you have the authority to pull them for their own safety.

You may encounter a runner that you believe should be pulled from the race based on their current medical condition.  In most cases a runner will themselves realize they are not fit enough to continue and drop out on their own accord.  However, it may be required to step in and inform a runner that they have been pulled from the event for their own safety.

This should always be a last resort decision.  Runners may become extremely upset. The first responsibility of the aid station is to try to help the runners complete the course, but in the end, safety wins.

If a runner is disoriented or appears faint when standing (a sign of low blood pressure) insist that they sit down.  Get them to drink (slowly) and point out that if they get lost or become unconscious out on the trail, they will lose more time than if they wait at the aid station until they feel better.

Make sure they know that they have time to rest and let them know when the next cutoff is. It could be very likely that sitting for an hour or two and resting (refueling properly) and cooling down may allow them to continue on with the race.

These situations should be discussed with the race director and you should get his concurrence for pulling the runner.

These are all experienced runners, many of whom have completed many trail ultras, so try your best to help the runners continue on.  Pulling a runner should be a last resort but experience and stubbornness should not get in the way of common sense and safety.

Pacers

Pacers are allowed solely as a safety consideration for potentially fatigued runners. There are rules for pacers as well.

  1. No physical aid may be given by the pacer to assist the runner.
  2. No 'muling' or carrying items for the runner No aid (food, fluids, other supplies) can be given to the runner outside of normal aid station locations.  
  3. Pacers can only join in the race at two locations. Bud Valley Campground & Urbana Aid Station. ONLY these locations will allow runners to pick up a pacer.
  4. Pacers may be running at night and should plan to have a headlamp or flashlight.
  5. Pacers must register on Ultrasignup.com, sign the waiver and identify the runner they are pacing.
  6. Pacers must be at least 18 years of age. Exceptions may be considered.
  7. Each pacer must wear the pacer-bib number at all times.
  8. Pacers must stay with their runners at all times.
  9. Pacers must meet runners at the a aid station areas and depart that aid station with their runner.
  10. Pacers may not continue on the course if the runner being paced is pulled, or drops out of the race.
  11. Pacers must arrive and depart from Aid Stations with their runner.
  12. Only one pacer is allowed to be pacing a runner at a time. Runners can utilize two different pacers during the event.

Permits & Permissions

I do not expect anyone to approach you and question if we are allowed to have this event on the trail.

If it should ever happen know that this event is permitted through the NYSDEC, NYSDOT, Finger Lakes Trails Conference, Ontario County Park, as well as Yates, Steuben and Ontario Counties. We have written permissions from each town, village and city that this trail passes through.  As well each landowner is fully aware and insured.  We have written permission to host those aid stations which are set on private property (Italy Valley, Italy Turnpike, Patch Road, Urbana). Should anyone ever approach you during the race or bring anything into question please get in touch the Race Director.

Personal Items:

Feel free to eat any of the food at the aid station and bring extra food for yourself.  Make sure you are paying attention to you too! You might be exposed to sun, heat, and long periods of standing. Take care of yourselves!

  • Poncho or rain jacket
  • Water Bottle
  • Backpack
  • Flashlight, spare batteries
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Drinks
  • Snacks/Meal
  • Insect repellent
  • Something to read