Want to know why the pressure bandage is mandatory equipment for an ÖTILLÖ swimrun race? Meet Eventcare, the team that manages and coordinates all of our medical situations on the course. While they are wonderful people, we really don’t want to see or talk to them during a race because that means that someone is in need of their assistance. If you get a chance to talk to the “Pink Team” before or after the races, you’ll see why we are so fortunate to include them as part of our family. Enjoy the read.
– Michael Lemmel
By Per, Thommy and Robert
If you’ve ever been at an ÖTILLÖ event, either competing or as a spectator, most likely you’ve bumped into a member of the Eventcare team. Although they’re a super friendly group, you pretty much hope (at least if you’re a racer) that you won’t need their professional expertise because they’re in charge of the medical organisation during ÖTILLÖ swimruns.
When the 2006 Adventure Racing WC was held in Sweden, Mats Skott was competing for Team Cross and Michael Lemmel was responsible for event safety. Per, Thommy and Robert were in charge of the medical bit and somehow they all connected. The rest is history as they say.
This longstanding cooperation between Michael and Mats with Eventcare has grown from “just” medical support to an active partnership in security, organisation and safety in general.
Today’s Eventcare staff (see bios below) met in the early 2000 when working in Adventure Expedition Races and has since done medical assistance and support for multisport, adventure racing, endurance events and swimrun races.
Providing medical support for tough races in rough environments is humbling, and for Eventcare, an even bigger dose of humility is the fact that people put their faith and trust in their hands.
Planning a swimrun from a medical perspective
There are individual and external factors that need to be considered.
Individually – Does the racer have any known medical problems or take medication? What’s the level of fitness? Any prior experience?
Most racers in ÖTILLÖ events these days are not beginners, but experienced top-level athletes with no previous medical history who have a much better understanding of the limits of their physical ability and can react before things get out of hand. Overall, you have fewer “beginners’ errors”, such as not eating or drinking properly, blisters or gear problems.
External factors include high altitude, climate (heat, cold), water temperature, wind and the course terrain (rocks, roots, gravel).
You can’t predict everything about the race conditions – if there’s wind, there’s wind – but you can handle it in different ways. For example, staff security and good communication with course planners plus an alternative course, planned beforehand is absolutely necessary. Extremely cold water needs longer runs in order to get warm. Slick rocks can become risky if the rain is pouring down.
The “know how”
Working in the field, with limited resources is hugely different from working in a hospital and so it’s crucial to have more than just basic medical knowledge. You must be experienced in “reading” the difference between a cold, wet and extremely exhausted healthy racer and one who really needs your immediate attention. That is something you don’t learn at medical school, but from exposure to endurance sports.
The necessary resources
A fundamental element of Eventcare’s work is to have good cooperation with local medical organisations, but with the understanding that it’s usually the Eventcare team that is first on the scene. This is why they carry lots of equipment in order to cope with various acute scenarios and to stabilise a patient until local medical support and transport arrive. Generally they have 3-4 emergency medical backpacks with medication, IV support, and suture kits. They also bring portable defibrillators, oxygen, heart and pulse monitoring, and supplies for fracture management. In other words – an ambulance in a backpack.
But it’s not just carrying the kit that makes Eventcare effective, it’s their skills in using the gear.
Eventcare’s role in the race organisation
Eventcare’s primary role is to be in charge of the medical safety during a race. In order to perform well you have to have an open and insightful organisation, one that listens and communicates, and includes Eventcare in both the pre-race planning and the “on course” discussions. This always needs to be followed up with a post-race conversation to evaluate what was good and what was not.
The long history between Eventcare and the ÖTILLÖ crew creates a very good environment for honest and straightforward cooperation, which allows their role not as just an outside medical consultant but a full member within the ÖTILLÖ organisation.
The role of the racer
During the majority of the race, a team will be on its own without any medical attention close by. That is a very important fact and something that the racers should address both before and during the race. Stay together because if you are alone, no one will help you.
Always bring the mandatory gear and pressure bandage which can quickly, easily and effectively control a major haemorrhage. Upgrade your knowledge on CPR and acute life support because response time is the key to a successful intervention. Race hard, stay safe!
Eventcare Team Bios
MD, Consultant Orthopedic Surgery. Spec in Sports Medicine, Background in middle distance running on an elite national level. Medical director for the Swedish Alpine Ski Team, WC Mountainbike Åre Sweden 1999, Adventure Racing WC Sweden 2006. Vancouver and Sochi Olympics.
State Registered Nurse with Pre-Hospital specialisation since 1980. AMLS (Advanced Medical Life Support), PHTLS (Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support) and PS. Instructor in Water Safety and HLR. Adventure Racing WC, Åre Extreme Challenge.
State Registered Nurse with Pre-Hospital specialisation since 1996. AMLS, PHTLS and PS. Adventure Racing WC, Åre Extreme Challenge.
State Registered Nurse with Pre-Hospital specialisation. AMLS, PHTLS and PS. Worked swimrun events for the last 4 years. Åre Extreme Challenge. Background in cross-country skiing and running.
Working on his speciality in anaesthesiology at Umeå University Hospital. Worked swimrun and endurance events for several years. Loves endurance events, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, running and paddling.
State Registered Nurse with Pre-Hospital specialisation since 1984. AMLS, PHTLS and PS.
D-HLR (CPR Heart & Lung Rescue) instructor. Loves endurance events, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, running.
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #5 (December 2017)