More than 30 teams will race through the woods and kayak across waterways April 20 at Fort Gordon while dealing with simulated medical emergencies in the latest installment of the Southeast Medical Wilderness Adventure Race, also known as Southeast MedWAR.
It is the 13th annual race, which began in Augusta and has since spread across the country in different installments, including one in Canada.
“It’s really spread like wildfire,” said Laura Simmons, the director of the Southeast race and a first-year student at Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. The four-person teams will not only have to find their way through woods and paddle across different bodies of water but will also face about five simulated medical emergencies, she said.
“It’s everything involving explosions to falling off rock faces,” Simmons said. “The teams just have to deal with it in the race.”
In fact, the event includes a class on wilderness and emergency medicine that allows physicians to earn Continuing Medical Education credit for participating. But it doesn’t take a medical degree to compete, and there is at least one team of firefighters, Simmons said.
“Really anyone that has a little bit of knowledge as far as how to deal with the wilderness adventures and injuries participates,” she said.
The race portion will also present its own pitfalls, Simmons said.
“This year is going to be probably a little more challenging because there are points where they might actually have to pick the canoe up and carry it a little bit before they can continue,” which is known as portage.
Because the medical scenarios involve one of the team members simulating the injury, this year there will be an extra incentive to put more into it – an award for best acting, Simmons said. That is also part of the allure of the race, she said.
“You get to see some seasoned emergency medicine docs flailing around on the ground, and that can be fun,” Simmons said.