Although the 2010 Comrades Marathon will have the best medical facilities available, athletes only seek medical attention when they're already in trouble and medical convenor of the race, Jeremy Boulter, would prefer athletes not to start the race unless they are fully fit.
We only respond when a runner is in trouble. It is the responsibility of the runner to take care of his or her own health and, if they're not fit, they should not be running.
Athletes on antibiotics or just finishing a course of antibiotics should not be out there, warned Boulter, although state-of-the-art medical facilities will be supplied for the 18,200 participants who start the Down race on Sunday at 5.30am in Pietermaritzburg.
Ambulances, paramedics ready
Twenty ambulances, eight rapid response vehicles with advanced life support paramedics and six motorbikes with paramedics will be available along the route as well as a dedicated helicopter and another on standby.
The eight medical stations between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, staffed by professional nurses and paramedics, will provide basic first aid and have diabetic facilities where blood sugar levels can be checked. Physiotherapy will be available at all these stations.
The medical facility at the finish venue will include critical care facilities staffed by 80 doctors and 20 nurses. John Godlington, who started the medical facility in 1977, will also be in attendance.
Staff in the mini laboratory at the stadium will conduct essential blood tests, particularly to detect blood sodium levels to differentiate between dehydration and over-hydration, both of which exhibit similar symptoms.
On the actual finish line, there will be an emergency trauma unit with an emergency doctor and advanced life support paramedics as well as a gazebo, also equipped with advanced life support facilities, for the runners approaching the entrance to the stadium.
Should they not make it that far, there will be 50 rescue buses on the route for athletes in trouble who want to bail out. It is better to bail out healthy, than end up in ICU, stressed Boulter. - (Sapa, May 2010)