The 90th Comrades Marathon which starts outside Durban’s City Hall on Sunday, 31 May 2015 has extensive medical emergency, first aid and physiotherapy provisions for its thousands of participants. The Comrades Marathon Association’s (CMA) Medical Doctor, Dr Jeremy Boulter has announced that the following facilities will be made available to the Comrades runner, should medical care be required.
Sponsored by Netcare 911, these much-needed medical amenities will be made available at strategic positions along the nearly 87.72km Comrades route and at the finish venue, being the Oval Cricket Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.
This comprises eight physiotherapy stations, a fleet of ambulances, six rapid response vehicles and four motorcycles with advanced life support paramedics. In addition, an emergency helicopter will be available should the need arise.
This will be controlled by the fully equipped Joint Operations Control (JOC), based at the finish venue to operate and record all details and dispatch vehicles, as and when necessary.
The Netcare 911 Medical Emergency Number to remember is 082 911. This should be used for all calls for medical assistance for runners, upon which the calls will be routed directly to the Medical JOC.
There are eight Netcare 911 Physio/ First Aid Stations which incorporate physiotherapists, professional nurses and paramedical staff. These stations can treat minor medical problems, as well as blood sugar testing and further used to treat or stabilize runners until the arrival of ambulances. Physio students will also be positioned at certain refreshment stations along the route and a physio tent is set up at the finish.
Headed by Dr Boulter, the extensive Adcock Ingram Critical Care Medical Tent at the finish is equally equipped to handle just about any medical eventuality. It comprises about 70 doctors and interns, 20 nurses and a mini laboratory, courtesy of Ampath Laboratories.
Other facilities at the Tent include a 3-bed fully equipped ICU-type resuscitation area, which comprises its own specialist emergency team to provide appropriate emergency care if required.
A critical care emergency facility right on the finish line has also been set up in order for athletes to access on-the-spot medical help if needed. This is staffed by an emergency care doctor and a paramedic. The purpose of this specific medical facility is to have in place a primary, emergency resuscitation area if a runner is in severe trouble at the finish, and requires immediate care, prior to being transferred to the medical tent.
Additionally, an advanced life support paramedic will be stationed along, or at the end of the Toyota Mile, for the purposes of responding to calls to runners in that area who are in trouble before they enter the stadium.
Add to all of the above facilities, the St. John’s Ambulance Tent. Here, runners can access such facilities as R&R, rub-downs, strapping, massage and the like.
The Netcare group of hospitals will be providing the required facilities for Comrades day. To this end, the St. Augustines Hospital in Durban will be utilized for those runners who require hospitalization before halfway.
For those runners in the second half of the race and at the finish, the referral hospital in Pietermaritzburg is St. Annes. Runners with Medical Aid may be charged at Medical Aid rates and those without will be treated free of charge for a maximum of 24 hours, thanks to Netcare. Please note that this applies ONLY to runners who are taken directly to hospital from the route, or referred to hospital from the Medical facility at the finish.
The free medical treatment for runners without medical aid DOES NOT APPLY to runners who make their own way to hospital once they have left the finish venue.
For relatives and friends of runners being treated in the Medical facility, we have a dedicated Medical waiting tent adjacent to the main Medical facility. We cannot allow the public into the Medical facility. With close to 100 staff and 130 patients in the tent, there is just no room for relatives or friends, and they pose a danger to both themselves and runners.
If they know that their runner is in the Medical facility, or are so informed by the information tent, they will be directed to the waiting tent. Refreshments will be available there, and the staff, who are in direct contact with the medical staff, will keep them updated on the status of the patient.