Working in the UK, cold weather is a fact of life even in the summer months, but how as a medical provider can we help everyone at a sporting event enjoy their day when the elements are against them?
Plan for the worst
Wet and or windy weather is so common place that planning for a cold event should be a standard part of event documentation. The event organisers will lead on this, however as the greatest impact from the weather will be felt by the medical team it is important that they are included in the pre event discussions on how to manage it effectively.
Contractors, volunteers, spectators and event staff.
While the majority of the planning will focus on those taking part, its important to remember that many other people will be involved in the event and so they need to be considered in the plans.
Event days can be long and so stewards and volunteers etc. will need good welfare provisions to keep them going for the duration of the event. Equally, cold weather will lead to a higher drop out rate among the event delivery team e.g. stewards, at short notice so it is worth ensuring there is enough contingency staff to cover crucial staffing gaps.
What plans can be made in advance?
Each event will vary in style and duration; however there are some common questions to consider at all events:
1) Do the medical facilities need heating and are they big enough?
2) Where can be used as an overflow space for those who are well but cold at the finish and out on a course route?
3) Are there enough warm blankets available?
4) Can bag drop cope with a sudden rapid demand for participant’s warm clothes?
5) Are there enough planned medical staff to deal with the increase in numbers of those presenting with hypothermia while keeping the same standard of care for their other patients?
6) What welfare provisions are in place for everyone involved in event delivery e.g. staffing rotation to allow weather breaks?
7) What would the communication process be to everyone in advance of predicted cold weather?
8) Would a course route alteration or reduction be feasible and if so what would the plan be? How quickly could this be instigated?
9) What additional briefing information would be good to give the event team, vols etc. for the event day e.g. encouraging finishers to get into warm dry clothes quickly.
What about obstacle style events?
While everything above is true of all events, obstacle events need extra considerations:
1) Where on the course route is best to place water obstacles? Thought towards how far into the course they are, the levels of exposure at their location and which obstacles precede and follow them.
2) Are their any access restrictions to particularly exposed parts of the course and how can that be managed?
3) What wind reading cut offs are used for obstacles with a height component?
While the weather can make an event feel pretty miserable, with the right planning it can make the world of difference to everyone.
How can I find out more on this?
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