MA First Responders Honored for Saving Marathon Runner

Ken Reynolds, Mark Jacobs, and Scott Marcosa, all received medals of commendation from the BAA, along with members of the Natick Fire and Police departments.
Ken Reynolds, Mark Jacobs and Scott Marcosa received medals of commendation. (Photo/Brewster EMS)

Abby Patkin

MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, Mass.

(MCT)

When Meghan Roth woke up in an ambulance during the Boston Marathon last month, she did what countless runners have done when faced with race day setbacks: She tried to push through to the finish line.

But first responders who had just resuscitated the professional runner from a heart attack had other ideas.

Roth “tried to talk her way out of the ambulance,” recalled Natick fire Lt. and paramedic Matt Mullen. “She wanted to keep going.”

“She was very persuasive,” Natick firefighter and paramedic Kyle Sammon added.

After collapsing during the marathon, Roth was treated at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), she wrote in a public Facebook post on Oct. 13. She is now back home in Minnesota with her baby son, Jaxon.

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On Wednesday, the Boston Athletic Association, the Marathon’s organizer, awarded honorary medals to the nine first responders who came to Roth’s aid.

“One of the things that is most important, and perhaps most special, about the Boston Marathon is that it brings people together,” B.A.A. President and CEO Tom Grilk said during the brief ceremony.

Dr. David Morris, medical control doctor for Natick Fire, echoed the sentiment: “Running is an individual sport; this work is not,” he said.

Sammon recalled a high level of coordination in Roth’s rescue.

“What we do, it’s all teamwork,” he said. “I’m just very ecstatic that she’s alive and is now going to live a regular life and has a chance to compete in a marathon again if she chooses to.”

The Marathon Monday scene was chaotic, he said, with several people directing first responders to a downed runner on the course near Mile 8, near the Framingham line.

At the scene, fellow runner Dr. Jochen D. Muehlschlegel and spectators Cameron Howe and Marie Rodgers — a retired nurse from Milford — were already at Roth’s side, performing CPR. The three were unable to attend Wednesday’s ceremony and the B.A.A. said it will honor them later.

Mullen praised the bystanders’ actions and said the situation was extraordinary.

“We’ve definitely participated in many cardiac arrests in the past, but doing it in the middle of a marathon is a new event, in my mind,” he said.

Natick police officer Scott Wade was one of the first on the scene and, alongside Framingham police officers, acted as a human shield to direct runners away from Roth while paramedics worked on her.

The first responders’ teamwork went off without a hitch, Wade said.

“It was basically almost effortless,” he said.

Though unable to join the event in person, Roth wrote the first responders a letter that Grilk shared during the ceremony.

“You are my heroes, guardian angels, and I’ll never forget you,” she wrote.

Roth was able to thank her rescuers more in a subsequent Zoom session, during which she said she wants to raise awareness of the importance of CPR training and bystander awareness.

Sitting on camera with her son in her arms, she described her rescue as “such a miracle.”

“I really want to continue sharing my story and hopefully lives can continue to be saved, and of course you guys are there to be there for people and continue saving lives,” she told the group.

Roth said she is already feeling back to normal and hopes to be back in Boston for the 2023 Boston Marathon, pending doctors’ approval.

If Roth does come back to Boston, Mullen said she’s got a standing invitation to dinner at the Natick firehouse.

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