Updated: May 13, 2015

Sufficient medical assistance will be available to all runners on race day, organisers of the annual Comrades Marathon have assured participants, in the build-up to the 90th edition of the annual ultra-distance event.
The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) said on Wednesday it had made extensive provisions for medical emergencies, first aid and physiotherapy.
“Sponsored by Netcare 911, these much-needed medical amenities will be made available at strategic positions along the 87.72km Comrades route and at the finish venue, the Oval Cricket Stadium in Pietermaritzburg,” the CMA said in a statement.
“This comprises eight physiotherapy stations, a fleet of ambulances, six rapid response vehicles and four motorcycles with advanced life support paramedics.
“In addition, an emergency helicopter will be available should the need arise.”
Spectators and runners were urged to remember the Netcare 911 medical emergency number (082 911) which would be used for all calls for medical assistance to runners.
The Netcare 911 physio/ first aid stations would incorporate physiotherapists, professional nurses and paramedics.
“These stations can treat minor medical problems, as well as blood sugar testing, and to treat or stabilise runners until the arrival of ambulances,” the CMA said.
“Physio students will also be positioned at certain refreshment stations along the route and a physio tent is set up at the finish.”
Headed by race doctor Jeremy Boulter, organisers said the Adcock Ingram critical care medical tent at the finish was equally equipped to handle just about any medical eventuality.
It comprised about 70 doctors and interns, 20 nurses and a mini laboratory, courtesy of Ampath Laboratories. Other facilities at the tent included a three-bed fully equipped ICU-type resuscitation area, which comprised its own specialist emergency team.
“A critical care emergency facility right on the finish line has also been set up in order for athletes to access on-the-spot medical help if needed.
“This is staffed by an emergency care doctor and a paramedic. The purpose of this specific medical facility is to have in place a primary, emergency resuscitation area if a runner is in severe trouble at the finish, and requires immediate care, prior to being transferred to the medical tent.”
For relatives and friends of runners being treated in the medical facility, a dedicated medical waiting tent would be set up adjacent to the main medical facility.
“Refreshments will be available there, and the staff, who are in direct contact with the medical staff, will keep them updated on the status of the patient,” the CMA said.
Additionally, an advanced life support paramedic would be stationed near the Toyota Mile, for the purpose of responding to calls to runners who were in trouble before they entered the stadium, while the St. John’s Ambulance tent would offer rub-downs, strapping and massages.
The St. Augustines Hospital in Durban would be utilised for runners who required hospitalisation before halfway, and runners in the second half of the race would be referred to St. Annes in Pietermaritzburg.
“Runners with medical aid may be charged at medical aid rates and those without will be treated free of charge for a maximum of 24 hours, thanks to Netcare,” organisers said.
This would apply only to runners who were taken directly to hospital from the route, or referred to hospital from the medical facility at the finish
The free medical treatment for runners without medical aid would not apply to participants who made their own way to hospital once they had left the finish venue.
The Comrades Marathon, which boasts over 22 300 entrants, will be held between Durban and Pietermaritzburg on May 31.