VCU Health's medical tent. Photo by University Marketing

Freestanding VCU Health medical tent equipped to handle cyclists’ injuries

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When Rebecca Moran woke up today, it felt like Christmas.

But the presents she was expecting weren’t boxes adorned in beautiful wrapping paper and a bow. Instead, it was the presence of more than 1,000 cyclists draped in the vivid, distinctive colors that represent their countries and their sponsors for the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond Sept. 19-27.

Moran, D.P.T., a physical therapist with Virginia Commonwealth University Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, is working in the medical tent set up on Broad Street between 3rd and 4th streets in downtown Richmond. VCU Health is the sole medical sponsor of the international cycling contest. The first official contest starts at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 20 with the women’s team time trial.

Moran and five other physical therapists took an emergency medical responder course in the spring that prepared them to tend to routine cyclist injuries such as road rash, muscle cramps, blisters and taping for joint stability. The approximately 50 x 20 tent was erected Friday morning with a primary treatment area and an area for physical therapy. It will be fully operational during event hours and stocked with a range of medical materials, from basic first aid and medications to items that can be used to provide advanced wound care.

Moran said this is what she’s been waiting for.

“I haven’t slept in a week trying to get ready for this,” she said. “It feels like Christmas morning, like we have been waiting and waiting for this. This is the opportunity you dream about in school.”

The UCI event brings with it 1,000 athletes and an estimated 450,000 spectators over the course of nine days. Cyclists’ courses will loop through or near both of VCU’s campuses. Each race lasts a day, and each race crowns a new world champion. Nicknamed “The Worlds,” the event includes races in the categories of individual time trial, team time trial and road circuit. Divisions include men’s and women’s junior, men’s under 23, and men’s and women’s elite.

As the sole medical sponsor, VCU Health will have physicians, nurses and physical therapists on hand to treat any injuries experienced by cyclists. Nurses will staff fan zones around the city and offer comfort care.

The medical tent serves as an extension to the medical care offered throughout the race.

“During a large athletic event like this you will want a designated area close to the race and away from your main hospital. This gives you close access to race participants as they either finish the race, or, if they are injured on the course, they do not have long to go to get access to medical care,” said Stephen Miller, D.O., assistant professor of emergency medicine and VCU Health medical director of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships. “A resource like a medical tent allows you to quickly see and treat injuries anywhere from basic first aid to more serious conditions. A treatment area away from your physical hospital also helps keep your hospital system able to perform its day-in, day-out medical care for your community.”

A resource like a medical tent allows you to quickly see and treat injuries anywhere from basic first aid to more serious conditions. 

The tent is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Sept. 25. That day, the tent’s hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., or until the “Conquer the Cobbles” race is finished, Miller said.

More than 100 providers are working throughout the nine days. The tent will be staffed by physicians and nurses with backgrounds in emergency medicine, sports medicine, internal medicine and surgery. Additionally, medics with EMS backgrounds, sports medicine staff and physical therapists will be on hand.

On the physical therapist side, four people a day are scheduled to work in the tent, two at a time.

Moran is glad to be in the number.

 “What an awesome opportunity,” she said. “I never dreamed I’d be able to work with something on this scale.”


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