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27 May 2019

“The Comrades Medical Facility has been described as the single largest temporary medical facility outside of a conflict zone anywhere in the world.”
– Dr Jeremy Boulter, Comrades Marathon Medical Convenor
With 12 days to race day, a comprehensive medical plan to ensure the safety and well-being of Comrades Marathon athletes is in place for Sunday, 9 June, when the 94th edition of the world-famous race will be run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

The Comrades Marathon Association’s (CMA) Medical Convenor, Dr Jeremy Boulter, has confirmed that the following medical facilities will be made available to athletes during the 2019 Comrades Marathon.

Along the 86.83km route, Netcare 911 will provide the following:
1. Sixteen ambulances equipped with satellite tracking to enable us to accurately position the vehicles and ensure optimal response times to attend to runners in difficulty. 
2. Six rapid response vehicles with advanced life support paramedics and full emergency equipment
3. Six motor bikes with paramedics.
4. One helicopter on standby.

These will be controlled from the Medical Joint Operations Centre (JOC), based at the finish, where there will be 8 computers, a full complement of staff to operate them and record all details; and to dispatch vehicles as and where necessary.

CALL 082 911
All calls for medical assistance for runners should be made to the Netcare 911 medical emergency number 082 911.  These calls will then be routed directly to the Medical JOC. 

Medical Stations (First Aid Stations): There are 8 Netcare medical stations on route manned by qualified Professional Nurses and Paramedical staff. These stations also incorporate diabetic facilities where blood sugar levels can be tested, and feminine hygiene items. The medical stations will treat minor medical problems and will be used to treat or stabilise runners till arrival of ambulance.
Physio Stations: There are 8 physio stations on route manned by qualified Physios and 3rd year Physio students who will treat minor problems like cramping and strapping injuries. The Physio and 1st Aid Stations will be situated together.

At the Comrades Finish Venue based at the Scottsville Racecourse, the following facilities will be provided:
Medical Tent: The medical facility at the finish venue will include critical care facilities, manned by approximately 65 Doctors and 20 Nurses. The facility will also have a mini laboratory.

There will also be a three bed, fully equipped, ICU type resuscitation area. This area will have a dedicated specialist emergency team to provide appropriate emergency care if needed.

Please note: The medical facility is for runners only. Due to the large number of runners being treated and staff working in the tent, particularly during the last two hours of the race, we cannot allow relatives or friends into the tent. We just do not have enough space! They should go to the Information tent, from where they will be directed to the Medical Waiting tent to wait for their runner, have some tea or coffee and receive updates as to the runner’s condition and expected time of discharge.

Finish Line: There will be a small medical facility on the finish line. This will be staffed by an advanced paramedic. Its purpose is to be used as a primary emergency resuscitation area if a runner is in severe trouble at the finish, and needs care immediately, prior to transferring them to the medical tent.

Last Mile and entrance to stadium: There will be an advanced life support paramedic stationed along, or at the end of the Mile. Their purpose will be to respond to calls to runners in that area who are in trouble before or as they enter the racecourse precinct.

St. John’s Ambulance tent: The St. John’s tent will be located adjacent to the Medical tent at the finish venue. The staff will treat minor medical problems, do rub downs, strapping and massages.

Physio tent at finish: There is a fully staffed Physio tent with 40 beds at the finish venue. This will be situated near the wetland, just north of the finish area.

Public 1st Aid: Public 1st Aid will be provided by Netcare at the finish venue. It will be found near the Tog Bag Tent.

Our referral hospitals are St. Augustine’s Hospital in Durban, Busamed Hillcrest Private Hospital and St. Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. Runners picked up by ambulance before Fields Hill will be taken to St. Augustine’s; those picked up from Fields Hill to Cato Ridge will be taken to Hillcrest Private hospital; and runners from Cato Ridge onwards will be referred to St. Anne’s.

Runners with Medical Aid will be charged at Medical Aid rates. Runners without Medical Aid will be treated free of charge for a maximum of 24 hours. This ONLY applies to runners transported from the route or referred from the Medical facility at the finish. It does not apply to runners who make their own way there after finishing the race.

If a runner has a serious medical problem that will need more than 24 hours hospital care and does not have Medical Aid, that runner may be transferred to a Provincial hospital after 24 hours, at the discretion of the relevant hospital management.

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