With hundreds of athletes from around the world and thousands of spectators expected for the 2014 IBU Youth/Junior Biathlon World Championships, medical services is a key concern. TAMC and the University of Maine at Presque Isle are teaming up to meet that need.
This project is a natural fit for TAMC for a number of reasons, according to Daryl Boucher, EdD, director of emergency and critical care services at TAMC and the medical chairperson for the World Championship Biathlon.
“It’s more than just the fact that as the local hospital and ambulance provider, we will naturally provide emergency care for those who need it. With our focus on health, supporting healthy outdoor activities for our youth is part of our mission. TAMC is committed to this community, and we look for ways to collaborate to support events such as this,” said Boucher. “We also recognize that this is an opportunity for our staff to meet people of other cultures, which ultimately helps us in our interactions with patients. The more culturally diverse we are, the better clinicians we are.”
This is a sentiment echoed by Deena Albert Parks, clinical coordinator for the athletic training program at UMPI.
“We are planning on moving our classroom to the Nordic Heritage Center for ten days of hands-on, real-life experience working with culturally-diverse, high caliber, talented international athletes, parents and fans,” said Albert Parks.
“This is really a once in a life-time experience for most of our UMPI athletic training students. And to be able to tell future employers that they’ve already had a chance to work with culturally diverse, top level athletes definitely gives them a leg up once they get out into the career field.”
TAMC is charged with the medical oversight for the world championship event. Dr. Peter Morningstar, from TAMC’s Aroostook Pediatrics practice and team physician for UMPI athletics, is the medical director for the event. Dr. Morningstar, along with a physician assistant, physician or nurse practitioner, will be on site every day for the biathlon activities. These TAMC providers, along with Crown Ambulance personnel, will be providing coverage every day to all of the teams and the spectators. They will be overseeing the first aid efforts at the venue and the overall healthcare of all of the 400 or so athletes that will be competing.
“The IBU Junior Biathlon Championships is a great opportunity for TAMC personnel and other area health care providers to showcase that state of the art sports medicine is happening right here in Aroostook County. We are all excited to have these events coming to Presque Isle and will be ready to be great medical hosts,” said Dr. Morningstar.
There are three key areas in which TAMC and UMPI staff and volunteers will be leading medical efforts. The first is anti-doping management, with efforts being led by Albert Parks and Crown Ambulance Paramedic Susan Busse. Ten TAMC employees, along with 22 athletic training students from UMPI will be identifying and chaperoning selected athletes to the doping area so the IBU appointed physician can collect specimens from each athlete.
Sue Beaudet, professor of physical education at UMPI, will work with eight UMPI students each day providing initial first aid to athletes on the course. If an athlete is injured on the course, these volunteers secure the scene, move the athlete out of the traffic of the race if possible, stop any bleeding or splint an injured limb, treat for shock, and, in a worse-case scenario, provide CPR.
“During the races, we ski out to potentially hazardous places that have been previously identified on the course. On practice days, we ski the course just to be a
presence and render aid if needed,” explained Beaudet.
The type of assistance is very basic and only if the athlete cannot continue in the race, since according to Nordic ski racing rules, if an athlete gets any type of assistance, he or she is disqualified.
“We have had to deal with very few such injuries,” said Beaudet, who has been providing first aid for athletes at biathlon events for years. “Most of our student volunteers are in the athletic training program, so they have a background in athletic injuries; the rest of us have a background in physical education. Almost all of us are ex-ski racers, so we know what is going on.”
For first aid efforts off the course, Albert Parks and Barb Blackstone, associate professor and coordinator of athletic training education at UMPI, will be leading a team of EMTs from Crown Ambulance, nurses from TAMC, and physical therapy and athletic training students from UMPI. They will provide care for spectators as needed, as well as anyone else injured or otherwise needing assistance in the parking lot area or in buildings at the venue. This group will also be responsible for any necessary snowmobile sled rescue for those needing to be transported off the course.
In addition to the services at the venue, TAMC will be “up staffing” their Emergency Department, according to Boucher, as well as providing additional Crown Ambulance crew coverage, in order to best meet the needs of everyone in the community, whether or not they are taking part in the activities at Nordic Heritage Center.
“This is really a collaborative effort. It’s been great working with UMPI leaders,” said Boucher. “They’ve really stepped up to help us meet this need and ensure the proper care of all of the people, athletes and spectators alike, who will be a part of our community during the biathlon activities.”
Volunteerism plays a key role in being able to provide these medical services. TAMC and Crown personnel are providing medical services through a mix of volunteer and paid time. UMPI staff and students assisting with the medical services are volunteering their time as well. A number of individuals from both organizations are volunteering their time and talents for non-medical areas as well.
TAMC has about 60 employees volunteering for the biathlon, according to Boucher. About half of those are in the medical arena, while the other half are helping in a wide range of areas depending on the interests of the individual volunteers. UMPI has 20 employees and at least 30 students joining the effort in many capacities.
In total, approximately 350 community members are volunteering to help make the biathlon a successful event. More volunteers are still needed in non-medical areas. The online registration form is available at www.biathlon-presqueisle.org – look for the “volunteering” link on the bottom left corner of the website.