One of the most important pre-event plans you will create to manage your risk is a medical plan. Having medical services helps protect yourself, your riders, and your spectators. Coordinating appropriate medical resources reduces response time to an incident and can allow you to focus on the race operations while someone else is dedicated to the medical needs of the event. Other stakeholders such as municipalities, counties, facilities or other government entities may have specific requirements for medical staff at an event, so be sure to check with them about their requirements.
Specific details will impact the type and frequency of injuries which will determine the medical team you choose. You and the medical team should begin determining medical staff location, hours, quantities, equipment, etc. by going over the event schedule and details. You may have to explain the event to the medical staff if they aren’t familiar with cycling events.
The type of medical team will depend on the many event details. Since many cycling events take place away from hospitals, pre-hospital caregivers can often provide the appropriate care needed. Describing the event with the medical staff prior to the event can help decide whether they bring a team with basic, mixed, or advanced life support training. They can also help decide if the transport vehicle should be on site. Even if you hire a medical crew, an important question to ask is whether a transport crew will be on call for other emergencies that may arise during the event’s timeframe. If they are on call this means they could leave the event and you’d have no coverage until they returned. It is important to know this prior to race day so you can plan accordingly.
Details for medical staff:
Most medical services will cost money no matter what type of crew you use. Remember to include medical services and potential equipment into the event budget. Check with a local college or hospitals to see if they have an EMS course or can provide free resources. An instructor might be interested in bringing qualified students to help at the event as a field exercise. If you are lucky you may be able to have these services donated. One consideration is whether a school or facility can provide proof of insurance to ensure that they have coverage if at an event.
If possible, have the medical staff walk the course with you before the event to determine the best locations for their personnel. If there are areas of your event that are enclosed with fencing, make a plan on where you may need to break the fencing to access the course with personnel and emergency vehicles. Also, provide the medical staff and participants with a venue map and visible aid stations this helps both the injured person and medical staff if they need to respond on course. If the medical staff is not familiar with the event an information session describing the event, speed of participants, etc. should be set up. Other items to consider are:
- Anticipated “trouble spots” on course (ie. tricky corner or fast downhill)
- Ingress/egress for ambulances and staff
Everyone involved in the medical process and on staff should know the chain of command in the event of an emergency. This allows people to function within their official capacity and cuts down on the response time. The person in charge during an incident can be the safety coordinator, course director, city planners, or medical director – it is important to identify that person pre-race and communicate to all parties. The race director should not be in charge of a medical emergency so the event can continue to operate smoothly, though this does not mean the race director should not be made aware of what is going on. In the case of a larger citywide incident or emergency a city employee will most likely call the shots which will trump any plan you had in place at your event. A spokesperson for the event should also be selected and all staff should know who the spokesperson is and direct any information requests to them. A phone tree is a great tool that can be put on the back of a credential for staff to have on hand during an incident.
For more information see Crisis Management.
In the event that an injury occurs, an occurrence report will need to be completed and turned into USA Cycling. This First Report of Occurrence (FRO) may be obtained at the USAC website or from Race Officials. This form may be completed by staff, medical staff, or an official, but an official should sign the form and send to USA Cycling at the conclusion of the event. If there are witnesses to the incident, please try to obtain a statement from them as well as contact information. In all circumstances of an injury, it is very important to attach the volunteer or participant’s waiver to the occurrence report when sending to USA Cycling, and to keep a copy for your own records.
If an athlete or spectator injury occurs, transport to the hospital and make sure the medical director, safety director, or the race director contacts their emergency contact. Inform key staff from the race director, timers, officials, etc. that an athlete has been transported. And be sure to follow up with the athlete after the event.
When contacting an athlete’s emergency contact, it is important to stick to the facts of what happened and inform them where the athlete is being transported to. If possible, provide contact information and an address for the hospital. At first you may not know what exactly happened and it is important to not hypothesize what happened or place blame. This can be a difficult conversation so someone with crisis communication experience is the best person to do this.
When your event becomes a large, annual event, start a relationship with the local hospital by finding out who the charge person in the emergency department is on event day. This allows them to be prepared for the type of event. Forming a relationship with a hospital might open the door to medical sponsorship in the future. Some hospitals have sponsored events through medical staff time or supplies. If they want to get more involved in the event, you may be able to offer them a presence in the expo area, host a medical/aid station, give lectures, etc.
Tip: Many states, cities, counties have an office of emergency medical services that you can use as a resource for things such as ambulance companies.