Aug 08, 2012 12:00 PM

Author: Erika Rasmussen


What types of medical services will University of Utah Health be providing to riders during the tour?

The University of Utah Health team has several responsibilities. A medical clinic will be available in the team hotel for the two days prior to the race to handle any medical issues arising during training. The same medical clinic will also be staffed each evening during the race. For the first time in the history of the Tour of Utah, physical therapy services will also be available in the medical clinic. Riders may have sprains and muscle issues, which physical therapy can ameliorate. 

On race days, the University will staff two medical cars, which follow the riders in the caravan with the race team cars. Each car has at least two medical personnel that can treat riders "on the fly" while they are still moving. This moving treatment permits riders to receive care but not lose position in the race. The cars also have a major medical supply kit allowing us to care for significant injuries.  

A medical motorcycle will follow the race and is usually dispatched to follow a break away group that separates from the peloton. Two ambulances complete the medical crew in the caravan.

A medical tent is staffed at the finish line to handle issues that may develop after the riders complete the daily stages. Spectator medical issues may also be treated by the finish line crew.

What are the major medical issues you'll be watching for during the race?

From a safety and health standpoint, we hope we will not have to provide any care to the riders. However, given the difficulty of the course and the high level of competition, we expect some injuries. Minor problems may involve bee stings, aches and pains, upset stomachs and abrasions (road rash). More significant problems will result from crashes. Deep muscle bruises and skin punctures may be treatable, allowing the rider to continue. Fractured bones will most Iikely end the race for a rider.

Does this race present any special challenges for the medical team?

Normally we provide medical care in the hospital and outpatient clinics. For the Tour of Utah, we have a mobile medical crew that will be following the race in cars. We have to be able to help riders on the fly by leaning out of the car and assisting while the rider is still moving. We have a medical supply kit readily available for minor problems. We also have a major supply kit available for more significant injuries, which may result from a crash.  

What type of medical advice would you give the average cycling enthusiast to keep safe during rides?

Common sense is the best advice for any rider. Obey traffic laws, ride on less-travelled streets to minimize contact with cars, ride on streets with bike lanes, ride at a speed that allows you to remain in control and always wear a helmet. From a health standpoint, riders should not over exert themselves. Our hills and altitude make cycling more challenging. Any significant pre-existing medical condition should be evaluated by a doctor and medical clearance obtained to ensure the activity is healthy and tolerable.

With any outdoor activity, sun exposure needs to be controlled. University dermatologist Dr. Chris Hull has quantified the sun exposure in cyclists and found it significant. Skin cancer is a potential result of excessive sun exposure. Sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or greater should be applied to all exposed body parts every two hours.

Why is University of Utah Health providing medical services for the race?

The University of Utah is the only comprehensive medical team in the state which can provide the required care. From acute race care to physical therapy rehabilitation to level one emergency care, the University has personnel and facilities that can handle any problem that may present. The larger medical staff is also available if a unique medical need arises. 

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