As a college student at the University of New Hampshire, Lauren Plourde was told to find opportunities that made her stand out.
Plourde, Marshfield High’s athletic trainer, found that opportunity by becoming a medical volunteer for the Boston Marathon in 2012.
The experience for the first-time volunteer was an unforgettable one.
The Plymouth North High School graduate was on the sweep team, which finds runners who are struggling at the finish line and gets them in a wheelchair and transports them to the correct tent or doctor.
Plourde found a woman who was struggling and helped her into a wheelchair only to see her go limp in the chair.
“I just ran through all the streets and got her to the tent,” said Plourde. “Once we hooked her up to the IV, I stayed there the whole time.
“That was terrifying. I was like, ‘Oh my god! What is happening?’”
Now Plourde is a grizzled veteran and is volunteering at the race for the fourth time. This year, she’ll be in the medical tent.
Plourde said she’ll show up at 7 a.m. and leave around 7 p.m. on race day. The first few hours are slow, but when the masses begin to reach Bolyston Street her day really begins.
“You’re non-stop,” Plourde said. “As the day goes on and people are dropping. It’s nerve-wracking especially, too, because you’re dealing with the crowds as well. You have people looking, you have a million people walking toward you, so having a runner drop and trying to determine what’s going on with them and transporting is pretty stressful.”
Weather is the determining factor on what kind of injuries and ailments the runners will face.
During Plourde’s first marathon in 2012, temperatures reached nearly 90 degrees. Heat exhaustion, dehydration and cramps were the most common issues.
“Lack of sodium is huge so you can actually see the salt on their faces as they walk by,” Plourde said.
In 2015, temperatures stayed in the 40s with rain. Racers struggled with staying warm and many suffered from hypothermia.
Along with building her resume, Plourde relishes the chance to expand her horizons and work with medical professionals from across the country.
“Being the only athletic trainer (at Marshfield High), I do learn everyday but I don’t have anyone to bounce (ideas) off or tell me things about their past,” she said. “Volunteering for these big events, it’s my chance to see things that I won’t normally see on a daily basis to widen my education and bring it back here to make me a well-rounded athletic trainer.
“There’s doctors that travel from across the country just to come help out this day. Getting the experience to work with all of them and make those connections with everyone around you, that’s pretty much why I do it.”
Plourde also worked at the World Figure Skating Championships held at TD Garden in Boston over the weekend.
Plourde missed the 2013 race, the year of the Boston Marathon Bombing, because she was taking an athletic training certification exam.
“That’s the most memorable thing – the year after the (Marathon Bombing) how many runners actually did come back and that didn’t scare them and the crowd was still there that’s always there,” she said.
With this year’s race less than two weeks away, Plourde said she is ready for anything that comes her way on Marathon Monday.
“You don’t have a chance to think about it once the day gets really going,” she said. “In the athletic training world, that’s an average day.”