When the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed 19 years ago, Jeff McKibbin was one of many medical professionals who went downtown to lend whatever help they could.
Nearly two decades later, McKibbin returns to the site each year to help in a different way.
McKibbin, the director of the University of Central Oklahoma’s graduate athletic training program, and his students volunteer each year at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. This year’s marathon is scheduled to be held Sunday.
On the day of the bombing, McKibbin was in his office on campus at UCO, watching news reports roll in on television. When he heard a request for anyone with medical training to report downtown to assist, McKibbin grabbed his supplies and hitched a ride with a group of campus police who were headed that way.
McKibbin said he could see the column of smoke coming from the building from blocks away. When he arrived at the site, he learned his medical training wasn’t necessary after all. Instead of treating patients, McKibbin and several other volunteers were put to work helping recovery workers handle bodies.
The work went quickly, McKibbin said, and after about a half hour, the first job was done. So he began walking around the building looking for anyone else who needed help. As he made his way around the back of the building, he saw the body of a man, still sitting at his desk inside the building.
“It looked like he was asleep,” McKibbin said.
McKibbin spent about six hours at the site that day. But he goes back annually with his students to treat runners at the marathon for blisters, cramps, exhaustion and other issues. The students work alongside physicians, nurses and athletic trainers at medical stations along the marathon route and in a medical tent at the finish line.
Volunteering at the marathon gives students a chance to get hands-on experience at a major event, and it also gives them the opportunity to meet other medical professionals and learn from them, he said.
“It’s kind of got a dual purpose,” he said.
Megan Bolin, a second-year graduate student in McKibbin’s program, volunteered at last year’s marathon, and she plans to be at the race Sunday. Bolin, 25, said most of the student volunteers spend their time bandaging knees and elbows when a runner falls and helping runners work out cramps.
One of the most common issues the student volunteers see is when a runner comes in who didn’t prepare well enough for the race, she said. Many runners who try to run the half marathon for the first time end up dehydrated and suffer severe cramps, she said.
Bolin, a Midwest City native, was in elementary school when the Murrah Building was bombed. She said she appreciates the hands-on training she gets at the marathon. But more than that, she’s happy that she has a role to play in the race.
“It’s for a good cause,” she said.