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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Medical Aids at Races

At the recently concluded 2XU Marathon, a runner collapsed during the race and despite efforts by fellow runners and subsequently medical personnel, he passed away at the hospital. After this, there was a lot of kpkb over the lack of medical aids from the event proper. According to press reports and postings  in social media, the runner collapse somewhere around the 11km distance along the Geylang Bahru PCN. Fellow runners were not able to locate the event medical personnel and there was no emergency contact number of the race organiser to call. In the end, other runners provided cpr and called the SCDF. Unfortunately, they were not able to provide the exact location and consequently the SCDF ambulance took longer than expected to reach. Meanwhile, the race director was none the wiser about the event. Runners told umbrage at the lack of medical personnel, the inability to contact the race organiser/director and the simply inertia of the race organiser.

But to be fair to the race organiser, I think they have done what is expected of them. Looking at the race map, there are medical points spread out all over the race course. However, most of the medical points were along the second half of the route as to be expected of a full marathon where most of the injuries and problems are likely to occur later rather than so early as in this case. And there is no precedent for an emergency contact number of the event organiser in most race although I noted that this is now printed on the City Race race bib. Lesson learnt! And it is not realistic to expect medical personnel to be stationed at every 1 km. As I understand, most big races will have at least 3 civil ambulances during a race stationed along the race course and first aiders (usually from the Red Cross or St John) stationed along the routes. What happened is really unexpected and beyond the control of the race organiser and they have done what is required of them. But that is of course not to say that these cannot be improved on.

For a start, we could all learn from the Tokyo Marathon. I noticed that apart from the usual medics stationed at various points throughout the race course, in addition, there were medics on bicycle. Not only that, there were doctors who were running with the runners.

Members of the Medical Response team at the Tokyo Marathon
Photo from
Medical personnel with AED along the race route at the Tokyo Marathon
Photo from Tokyo Marathon website
These doctors wear distinctive red vest with the words "Medical" and they ran together with the runners
Photo from
Perhaps doctors who are runners can volunteer their services and run together with participants in races. Race director should also make available mobile medics with AED and other relevant medical aids.

However, all these measures will not prevent somebody from dying if that is his fate but hopefully it will be sufficient to reduce or prevent more cases

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