A team 15 years in the making for the Absa Cape Epic
Posted on 21 March 2018
When the first Epic riders left the starting gate in 2004, Mediclinic event support consisted of three nurses and three doctors. With roughly 600 riders in the field, the team had the traditional ‘jump bags’ and took care of the riders.
As the profile of the race has grown, the number of riders participating in the event has systematically increased. This in turn demanded additional resources to ensure that Mediclinic provided the safest possible race for the participants. In 2018, 1300 participants – made up of 650 teams – take to the trails with about half of these riders coming from outside of South Africa’s borders.
In this time it is not only the number of support staff that has changed, but also the specialised services that are now on offer to riders. Specialist events require specialist care, and the grueling nature of a multi-stage event such as the Absa Cape Epic demands tailored services. With the support of Mediclinic Southern Africa, the corporate events team have produced a particular mix of services to care for the riders. “We have a mix of doctors experienced in sports medicine, orthopedics and emergency medicine, we are very selective about our Epic crew!” says Dr Jann Killops proudly.
Dr Killops, Race Doctor to the Absa Cape Epic, has been on the event for seven years and is always looking for new ways of delivering the best care, “Our ‘Bum Clinic’ is well known amongst the riders and is an essential offering that keeps them on their bikes in spite of the inevitable saddle sores that develop over such an intense race.” Nurses in the clinic are well-known to repeat riders and have a reputation for delivering the best care in the most delicate of places. PN Randall Rhodes has completed 10 Epics and is a permanent fixture in the clinic alongside PN Ainslie McClarty, who has 6 Epics under her belt.
The Wound Care Clinic is also key to ongoing ‘repairs’ to riders who have either had unplanned dismounts or have suffered the fate of blisters along the way. Riders become regulars through the event and the nursing team get to know them very well – care becomes a personal mission to keep the riders motivated and in a position to continue if they are healthy. “Two of the friendly faces you may see in dressing wounds and blisters are PN Michelle Wagner and PN Susan de Wet – both relatively new to the Epic but with plenty of event nursing experience under their belts,” says Dr Killops.
Strapping has become a traditional scene during the morning hospital sessions with riders needing a little support during the day. Dr Adrian Rotunno and Dr Ischen Stopforth are both highly experienced when it comes to getting participants ready for the day’s ride.
While all this care may seem superficial in nature the more intense care is definitely key to all plans in race hospital. A dedicated ICU tent is in place and highly experienced nurses are at the ready any time of day. Patients are traditionally received into the ICU from the field and evaluated – they are then transferred to the nearest suitable hospital if necessary. “In addition to doctors that operate in the ICU, PN Deidre Pedersen and PN Sanet van Rooyen will be on hand for any medical emergency through our race hospital,” assures Dr Killops.
Another important element of monitoring riders’ health is the introduction of the renal care unit over the last four races. “Pathcare have come on board as partners for the kidney clinic, which allows for swift decisions to be made around patients’ health by providing accurate pathology results. A blood sample provides an accurate kidney function enabling the clinicians involved in the care to make the most appropriate decisions in real time,” explains Dr Jann Killops.
During the Absa Cape Epic there is always a doctor and nurse on the route to ensure that medical help is a radio call away. They are assisted at various points by ER24 paramedics either on quads or bikes posted at points on the day’s route. Especially those that are inaccessible by car.
The team for 2018 is eight doctors and eight nurses strong at any given time – waiting on route or in the race hospital to deliver the expertise our patients have come to know. With 100 Epic races between the team, they definitely have a wealth of experience to offer.