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Pittsburgh Marathon Medics Prepared For Not Just Sprains, But Trauma Too

Medical professionals usually expect heat-related injuries, heart problems or sprains at the Pittsburgh Marathon. But following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, plans have been made for more extensive medical care.

There will be 400 medical professional volunteers from UPMC, including physicians, nurses and athletic trainers, on hand. That's about a hundred more than last year.

Dr. Ronald Roth, professor of emergency medicine at UPMC and Pittsburgh Marathon medical director, said speaking with colleagues in Boston and with officials in Pittsburgh has led to bringing in additional equipment such as tourniquets, extra bandages, IV fluids and changing some of the protocols.

“We took these steps to make sure that the runners, the spectators and our volunteers will be safe at this year’s marathon,” Roth said at a news conference Wednesday.

The injuries personnel tend to see are related to the weather, and the hotter the weather, the more injuries they see. They tend to treat 1 to 3 percent of the runners, either on the course or at the medical tent at the finish line.

Roth said they will still be prepared to treat those injuries. The prediction for Sunday’s weather will be mid-50s to high 60s.

Chief Mark Bocian of City of Pittsburgh EMS said crews from 26 ambulances from outside Pittsburgh will line the parade route as well as additional emergency personnel who will be on site. There will be stations along the course and a field hospital at the finish line. Red Cross volunteers will also be along the course.

“Typically in a race, you do expect the heat injury, you do expect the pulmonary, the cardiac, but you don’t expect the battlefield injuries, the trauma that they saw," he said. "We’re going to prepare for that as needed. We’re going to stage a little more equipment than we typically do in light of Boston.”

Officials at the news conference said this level of prevention at the marathon will now be standard protocol. Bocian added that there has always been a high level of safety taken with the marathon.

“The plan that we’ve had in place for years pretty much mimicked their preparation," he said. "I don’t know that anybody anywhere is prepared for a bomb going off and all that trauma and you have amputees and all that trauma at any event."

The marathon starts at 7 a.m. in the Strip District and will run through the city, including the North Side, West End, South Side and the East End. The race ends downtown.

Thirty thousand runners will be taking part from 15 countries and every state.

Race Director Patrice Matamoros said even city residents who aren’t running the marathon should join in the fun.

"We’re really encouraging people to come outside," she said. "It’s a 26.2 mile tailgater for race day."