Athletic Training students, faculty provide medical care for runners at Boston Marathon

Aidan O'Keefe, Christopher Rizzo, and Riley Billings pose in front of a wall at the Boston Marathon
From left: Aidan O'Keefe, Christopher Rizzo, and Riley Billings at the 2023 Boston Marathon

Two students and one faculty member from the University of New England’s Master of Science in Athletic Training (M.S.A.T.) program joined 1,700 other health care professionals to provide medical care to runners at the 127th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15.

M.S.A.T. Class of 2024 students Aidan O'Keefe and Riley Billings joined Christopher Rizzo, D.A.T., clinical professor and coordinator of Clinical Education for the M.S.A.T. program, in providing voluntary medical care to over 1,600 runners during the race. Nearly 30,000 runners from more than 100 countries participated in the famed event. 

Rizzo explained that volunteering at the marathon provided a rich experience in interprofessional practice as various health professionals — including athletic trainers, physicians, physician assistants, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, and clinical psychologists — were divided into teams to care for injured and distressed runners.  

“The experience also revealed the extent to which high-level care can be provided at a mass participation event,” Rizzo said.

O’Keefe was stationed at the marathon’s infamous Heartbreak Hill, located on the Boston College campus. He said working across health care disciplines was great experience and an excellent networking opportunity.

“Being able to experience Marathon Monday for the first time was so exciting, especially as a health care provider and having the chance to connect with other athletic trainers and AT students,” he remarked. “Working interprofessionally allowed the other students and I to take the charge with cramp massaging, applying Biofreeze, and triaging athletes. The experience was nothing short of rewarding, and I hope to be back again.”