On-site hospital ready to provide emergency service

When almost fifty thousand runners gather in Canada’s capital for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend May 28-29, they need not worry if they experience any symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, or something more serious. The Ottawa Hospital’s on-site mini-hospital, one of only two mobile hospitals of its kind in the province, is prepared and ready to provide emergency service to those who need it.

“We have a group of volunteers who have been keen and involved with the run for many years, and we get new recruits every year,” said. John Trickett, Clinical Director. “Everyone is welcome, whether they work at one of the hospitals or clinics across the city, or are just interested in helping out.”

There has always been a first aid/medical presence since the Ottawa Race Weekend began 41 years ago, but only in the last three years has it been formally operated under the auspices of The Ottawa Hospital. Previously, the hospital helped support facilities for the race weekend. A tighter relationship between The Ottawa Hospital and race weekend was formalized in 2013.

Being considered a satellite site of the Ottawa Hospital helps reduce pressure on busy emergency services across the city, which otherwise would be accepting a large number of patients. “We treat about 200 individuals in a four-hour period on marathon day,” estimated. Trickett. “Under current legislation, ambulances are required to go to the nearest emergency department ; therefore, as part of the hospital, ambulances can now bring injured or sick runners directly to us.”

The mini-hospital operates on both days of race weekend, though the bulk of injuries and illness are seen during Sunday’s marathon, when there are 17 aid stations clearly marked and located throughout the course, fully equipped with emergency supplies that include general first aid supplies, a table, cases of water and a cooler filled with ice. In collaboration with City of Ottawa Paramedic partners, six medical support vans patrol the course and take sick or injured runners to the Cartier Drill Hall, the main site of the mobile mini-hospital. The Drill Hall, which can treat mildly to seriously ill patients, is only steps away from the race finish line, which is often considered to be one of the most dangerous spots for cardiac arrests.

“We are all conscious of the risks,” said. Trickett. “We can give people the immediate care they need, and transfer to hospital those requiring ongoing management. It’s timely, on-site quality care.”

The relationship between The Ottawa Hospital and Ottawa Race Weekend has enabled the mini-hospital to be integrated more tightly with communications, risk management, and emergency preparedness planning. In addition to treating patients, the on-site hospital is able to manage the flow of patients effectively and assist with family reunification.

This is in no small part due to the 150-200 volunteers that help out over the course of the weekend. Many volunteers give up their whole weekend to support the medical team and their community.

“There is so much dedication for the people who volunteer their time,” said. Trickett. “The hospital has been running for long enough that we make it five percent better every year; there is always small ways in which to improve our operation. I feel privileged to be a part of a group of people who truly believe in what they’re there for: providing the highest quality care for our race weekend participants, and their loved ones.”

For more information on being a part of the medical staff click here.

To find out how to support The Ottawa Hospital and fundraise during Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend click here.