Michael Metz of Elgin had a bottle of water in one hand and a banana in the other; excited to hydrate and hug his friend Liz who was running in the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. When he couldn’t find her among the crowd of athletes coming off the course in Grant Park, Michael turned to the Congress Information Tent staffed by the American Red Cross.
Volunteer Katie Wilkes was ready to help. Katie found Liz passed all the checkpoints and based on her running time would be crossing the finish line soon. Katie was also able to share with Michael that his friend hadn’t suffered any medical issues on the course.
“That’s a huge relief! Thank you for your help,” he said.
Michael was one of 600 reunification requests and medical status updates the Red Cross fielded on race day as part of its Patient Connection system.
Patient Connection is a family reunification system the Red Cross activates to help locate injured people who are hospitalized during large incidents or events. The system was designed in 2002 for the Chicago Red Cross chapter to respond to local mass casualty incidents such as major transportation accidents, building fires or structure collapses if a large number of people are taken to area hospitals.
Because of the longtime partnership with the Chicago Marathon, the Red Cross is able to activate Patient Connection on race day. The system has served to be a vital resource to connect runners who may become injured on the course or separated from loved ones.
“The Red Cross brings a large amount of resources to support our event operations, especially the army of volunteers who are vital in helping runners, families and spectators on race day,” said Carey Pinkowski, Executive Race Director, Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Patient Connection expanded statewide in 2013 to cover Illinois. It is currently sponsored by Baxter International Inc.
“We are grateful for the investment Baxter is making to expand this program to ensure our network of 200 Illinois hospitals are ready to participate when needed,” said Fran Edwardson, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. “Together, we can help connect and comfort families during times of emergency through Patient Connection.”
For more information: www.redcross.org/il/chicago/disaster-services/patient-connection.
Written by: Patricia Kemp