Emergency Information Take Over

UM Emergency Medicine Physicians and Nurses Staff Grand Prix Medical Tents

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

How can a host city anticipate and meet the medical needs of 100,000 people watching race cars careen through city streets at 150 miles per hour? Rely on the experts.


During the 2012 Grand Prix, held in Baltimore over the Labor Day weekend, three medical tents were positioned along Pratt Street, ready to meet the medical needs that typically arise among spectators and drivers. The tents were staffed by 10 emergency physicians, 10 emergency medicine residents, 6 ED nurses, 5 nurse practitioners, and 2 medical students from the University of Maryland, who stepped up to stand ready in the center of it all, equipped with ear protection headgear and the right cache of supplies.


The medical teams were organized by Benjamin Lawner, DO, EMT-P, assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and deputy medical director for the Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD). With one foot in academic emergency medicine and the other in pre-hospital care, Dr. Lawner is in the perfect position to anticipate the medical needs of mass gatherings. He worked in close partnership with the BCFD during the planning phase and during the event itself. Logistics, including the construction and stocking of the medical tents, were handled by the BCFD, which Dr. Lawner calls “the backbone” of emergency preparedness for this event. In addition to the local medical corps on site, medical care coverage was also provided by two IndyCar Series physicians assigned to the track.


The ED physicians and nurses worked in 6- and 12-hour shifts, assessing people who came to the tents under their own power and those who were assisted by paramedics patrolling the grounds on bicycles. Eighty-eight people were evaluated and treated during the three-day event. Most people who came to the medical tents received treatment for conditions such as sprains and sun exposure and then left to resume their day at the races. But 17 of them were transported to nearby hospitals: one driver was taken to the Shock Trauma Center after his vehicle collided with a wall, 15 spectators were transported to UMMC, and one was taken to Mercy Medical Center. The patient tracking system designed and operated by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) was used to document patient transports.


Dr. Lawner and Dr. Wade Gaasch (assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, medical director for the BCFD, and the medical director for the Grand Prix) were stationed at the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Command Tent, the medical decision-making headquarters for the event. According to Dr. Lawner, “the presence of physicians with experience in pre-hospital care at large public gatherings is a tremendous asset in terms of communications with EMS personnel and coordination of resources. Events such as the Grand Prix demonstrate the full scope of practice for EMS physicians, ranging from assessment of patients in the field to delivery of definitive care in the appropriate hospital.”


IndyCar announced on September 30 that they would be back in Baltimore for a third race in September 2013, so look for our doctors to once again be a part of the high-speed action next year.

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