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Fort Gordon race combines adventure and medicine

Thursday, April 12, 2012 9:31 PM
Last updated 11:18 PM
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In the back woods, a swamp or a remote mountain cavern, medical emergencies will occur when an operating room isn’t anywhere close.

The annual MedWAR, or Medical Wilderness Adven­ture Race, will take place Satur­day at Fort Gordon. The competition helps train students, doctors, nurses and emergency workers for medical emergencies that aren’t near a hospital. At least 29 four-member teams c have registered to compete in the race,

It was started more than 10 years ago by Dr. Michael Caudell, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Georgia.

The adventure race combines canoeing, hiking and biking with hands-on emergency medical scenarios. Previous teams responded to a simulated alligator attack and a bike rider impaled by a tree limb after being thrown over the handlebars, said Ross Everett, a first-year medical student and one of 10 race directors who designed the course.

Everett said the medical wilderness field of practice has grown with the increasing popularity of outdoor adventure sports.

“You or the people you are with could be responsible for saving a life or at least minimizing damage,” he said.

During the race, teams are evaluated on how well they respond to the emergency situations.

David Attaway, a second-year MCG student, and his teammates will carry backpacks filled with splints, syringes, fake pain medicines and other first-aid supplies.

“You just prepare for common problems you would encounter in the wilderness,” Attaway said. “Everything you carry in you have to carry out.”

Attaway participated last year and finished the race in about 7½ hours. Only a handful of the teams completed the race, which involved an estimated 12 miles of running and about two hours of navigating through a swamp where the water was waist-high at some points, he said.

After the race, many participants camp in primitive conditions at the race site. Registration for the competition has closed.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: The Southeast MedWAR

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Fort Gordon; enter Gate 1 on Gordon Highway

MORE INFORMATION: medwar.org/southeast


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