Canadian Ski Patrol has you covered

Manitoba Marathon has a couple of things that we never get tired of bragging about: our green initiatives, our amazing people and our amazing medical infrastructure. Andrea Mensforth and Gerry Desjardins fall into both of the last two categories as members of the Medical Committee and race day team leads. Our extensive medical volunteer team makes up approximately 500 of our race day volunteers which cover the start line, course and the finish area. These amazing volunteers keep all of our runners and spectators safe on race day.

Andrea and Gerry work as First Aid instructors primarily, but they also work with the Manitoba Film Industry as medics.  Both also volunteer with the Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP): Andrea since 1994 and Gerry since 2004.  Many people don’t realize that the CSP is active all year round (not just on snow): 2019 marks the 40th anniversary for their involvement with the Manitoba Marathon.

When did you first start volunteering with Manitoba Marathon and what initially got you involved?

 Andrea: I first started volunteering for the Manitoba Marathon back in her early days with the Canadian Ski Patrol.  CSP Members patrol the race course on bikes to ensure all the runners are safe.  If an incident happens, we are equipped to help the runners.

Gerry: I started in 2004 with CSP’s involvement with the Marathon.

What job do you do on race day? What do you particularly enjoy about that position?

Andrea: I coordinate the CSP members for the Medical Bike Unit, but both of our jobs start well before race day.  All the bike medics carry oxygen, AEDs, first aid supplies and bag valve masks.  We gather the supplies and pack them into the saddle bags that the Manitoba Marathon provides for the bike medics.  The bike medics are assigned a location to travel on the course so that we can ensure we are well covered by medical volunteers in all areas.

Gerry: At first we were both on bikes patrolling the course, but then I moved into the Communication Centre where I dispatched the CSP members to any incidents.  Now as the Medical First Aid Coordinator, I run the First Aid area outside the Medical Care Centre. I gather all of the supplies needed to run the First Aid area in advance of race weekend and then on the Saturday I set it all up so it is staffed and functional for race day. We both really enjoy the good feeling of accomplishment we get after the Marathon is over, knowing that everything ran smoothly.

What motivates you to stay involved?

Andrea: I find it amazing to see all the community involvement on race day and how many Winnipeggers come out to cheer on the runners. It’s a great feeling to be part of something so big.

Gerry: I enjoy volunteering for a worthy cause and helping people in medical need.

Do you have a great memory from a race day to share?

Gerry: It is great to have my daughter Tiana volunteer beside me on race day.  She has assisted me as a medical information runner and supply drop support for the Communications Centre.  Now she volunteers with me at the first aid area outside the Medical Care Centre.

Andrea: My team helped a runner complete his first marathon. He thought he was going to have to pull out by the Jubilee overpass, but through the encouragement of the CSP members, he made it to the end. To see his smile as he crossed the finish line was so rewarding.

What do you think is the most important skill that you have gained volunteering with the Marathon?

Andrea:  Coordination of many people.

Gerry: Deadlines and time management

What is the most important advice you could give to new volunteers with the Marathon?

Watch, learn and volunteer for different positions to find what best suits your needs.

 What do you wish other people knew about the Manitoba Marathon and/or the Manitoba Marathon Foundation?

There are many fantastic and talented people who volunteer their time well before race day.  There are many meetings and coordination of personal and supplies that lead up to race day.

What kinds of changes have you seen in the Marathon over your years as a volunteer?

Andrea: I first started when the Medical Care Centre was in an army tent, similar to the one from the television show M.A.S.H.. Next it moved to the basement of the University of Manitoba stadium, then to the soccer complex and now to Investor’s Group Field. This most recent move has proven to be a fabulous fit for race day’s demands.

Gerry:  As the Manitoba Marathon grew in numbers of runners, the demand for emergency services grew. Now a full functioning Communication Centre exists, staffed with volunteer emergency services personal.

How has your volunteer work influenced other areas of your life?

Yes, we need sleep! Haha!