Physicians to staff Pittsburgh Marathon by running it

For the first time, medical professionals will be embedded as runners in the Pittsburgh Marathon to assist athletes in need of immediate medical attention, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In addition to 17 medical stations, 29 ambulances and medical professionals on bikes and motorcycles, marathon organizers have planned for 10 physicians to run at different paces on the full and half marathon courses. They will be equipped with a cell phone to call for more help and red markers to tag runners who have been treated, according to the report. Physicians have been also instructed to stop runners in pain or discomfort and evaluate whether they should continue the race, according to the report.

"Some people struggle because they're so dedicated and they spent so much time training that they may try to run through an injury," Frank Guyette, MD, a UPMC emergency medicine physician who will be in the half marathon, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They may not be in the best state of mind to make that decision."

The participating physicians had already planned to run the race, according to the report, and volunteered to help when the opportunity came about. Marathon organizers decided to add the additional providers on foot after considering a close call that happened near the finish line last year, according to the report.

At the 2015 race, runner had a cardiac event 100 yards from the finish line and physicians were able to provide immediate CPR and a defibrillator shock. He woke up in the hospital three days later, according to the report.

"It was because he had immediate medical attention," marathon director and CEO Patrice Matamoros, told the newspaper. "We were able to help bring him back."


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