Two of Nelson Mandela Bay’s biggest private medical service providers have joined forces to look after participants in next month’s The Herald VW Cycle Tour.
Life St George’s and Life Mercantile hospitals together with Gardmed ambulance service will once again provide the emergency care for riders in the 30th running of the event.
According to Life St George’s hospital manager André Bothma, preparations were already well underway for the biggest cycling event in the Eastern Cape.
Bothma said the hospitals’ emergency medical teams would be on standby during the mountain bike events at Addo and the road races in Port Elizabeth on January 31 and February 1.
“We’re always proud to be associated with the cycle tour. As with any big event in our city, we make sure that we notify the various specialists on call.”
He said Life St George’s 24-hour level-one trauma unit, which has a helicopter landing pad, and Life Mercantile’s 24-hour accident and emergency unit were well equipped to handle any form of medical or surgical emergency.
Gardmed managing director Dave Gardner said his ambulance crews would man both the off-road and road race routes during the weekend festival of cycling.
For the mountain bike component on the Saturday, Gardner said two advanced life support paramedics would be on duty, backed up by two more intermediate life support crews.
“The intermediate crews will man a normal ambulance plus a 4×4 one to deal with more treacherous terrain.”
In addition, he said two medics on quad bikes would attend to riders needing assistance in remote areas around Addo and Zuurberg that were inaccessible by vehicle.
“These crews generally deal with everything from serious issues such as fractures, cardiac-related incidents and major dehydration to just patching up those who have taken a tumble.”
He said the ambulances would be available to transport any riders who needed further medical assistance to the nearest medical facility.
“We also provide a trauma nurse and medic at the medical station in the race village at the Addo Polo Club.
“These staff members will generally be dealing with dehydration, exhaustion and ‘scratch and dents’ received during the races but are also capable of handling cardiac-related incidents and serious injuries.
“They do not deal with rub-downs, only medical issues,” he added.
For the family road races, which take place simultaneously along the PE beachfront, Gardner said a two-man intermediate life support ambulance and paramedic response car would keep a watchful eye on proceedings.
On the Sunday, the racing draws to a close with the main attraction – the road feature races.
“Because of the number of riders involved, two advanced life support and four intermediate ambulance crews will cover these races and we’ll have another medical station at Hobie Beach.
“These ambulances deal with anything major on the route that either requires medical intervention on the scene of the injury or they’ll move riders to a medical facility for further intervention.”
Road race director Julie Briggs said the event’s joint operations centre, headed up by the PE Amateur Radio Society, would be the central contact point for any emergency situation.
“Their dedicated team members will be posted at strategic points along the various routes, which allows us to keep in constant communication regarding potential problems.”
Briggs said the emergency contact details would be printed on all participants’ race numbers to ensure a speedy and effective response.
“By late January, the weather conditions are really hot, so we strongly advise riders to stay hydrated and take advantage of all the waterpoints along their routes.”
CAPTION: Life St George’s Hospital trauma nurse Bongi Radebe (left) takes over the care of “patient” Prick Basterman from Gardmed ambulance staff Marlan Heeres (centre), Heather McLeod (far right) and Dylan Bulmer. Gardmed and Life Healthcare will provide the emergency medical services for The Herald VW Cycle Tour on January 31 and February 1. Photo: Eugene Coetzee
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The Herald VW Cycle Tour