Being treated on the run

Fending off an alligator, falling from the top of a clay pit or getting a fish hook caught in your eye doesn't sound like a fun way to spend your Saturday.

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MedWAR participants tend to a team member with simulated injuries before continuing the race Saturday at Fort Gordon.   Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
MedWAR participants tend to a team member with simulated injuries before continuing the race Saturday at Fort Gordon.

The participants in this year's MedWAR might beg to differ.

The 11th Annual Southeast MedWAR (Medical Wilderness Adventure Race) was held Saturday at Fort Gordon. Rachel Nix, one of the race directors, said the race through the great outdoors is designed to test participants' knowledge of emergency medicine.

"We kind of took the adventure race and gave it a medical perspective," Nix said.

The majority of the race teams are usually medical students, physicians and emergency medical technicians, although anyone outside the medical profession may participate, Nix said.

"We try not to cover anything that is outside the realm of first aid education," Nix said.

The racing teams consisted of four members each, and teams were required to race about 15 miles through the wilderness.

Team members would occasionally have to split up and take separate paths at different junctures in the race. Some portions of the race required one team member to mountain bike while the others ran, and one portion involved a canoe ride.

One portion of the race required team members to walk knee-deep through swamp water, Nix said.

Throughout the race, the team members faced hypothetical emergency medical situations involving different members of the team. Nix said the emergency situations change each year. This year's race included a fish hook being stuck in a team members' eye, an alligator attack, a chain saw accident and a fall from the top of a clay pit.

At the clay pit, one of the team members falls from the top of the pit, landing at the bottom with a pelvic fracture. The team member with the imaginary injury had to pretend to be mentally delirious while his teammates figured out how to treat him.

Dr. Michael Caudell, an associate professor of emergency medicine and a medical director of wilderness and survival medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, is one of the founders of the MedWAR race. Caudell said he wanted the races to simulate the realities of wilderness medicine.

"It's not an idea that we want to teach how to do specific procedures, but principles," Caudell said.

The race started at 10 a.m. The winning team -- MCG students Jake Turrentine, David Herren, Ben Ham and Jedidiah Ballard -- crossed the finish line at 3:54 p.m.

Ballard said the race was his first, and what he had learned at MCG had helped prepare him for the medical situations his team encountered.

Ballard and his teammates agreed that the swamp, which was near the end of the race, was the hardest part to get through.

Race directors started planning the race in November. Nix said that although the race is designed to be grueling, the experience is what the participants make of it.

"This race is one of those things. It's either the best day of your life or the worst day of your life," she said.

For more information on the MedWAR races, visit www.medwar.org.


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