Providing medical support no simple task
The 35th America’s Cup is just around the corner and for nearly five weeks starting May 26 we can expect daily action on Bermuda’s waters and record numbers at the America’s Cup Village in Dockyard.
My job as medical director is to have contingency plans in place to deal with any medical incidents involving competitors and spectators alike.
Here is a glimpse at the task our medical support committee has taken on.
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The AC50s racing in the Great Sound will be capable of speeds of up to 85kmh and this by itself presents a constellation of risks never before seen in sailing: with less than one per cent of their hulls actually in the water, it might be better said that these boats “fly”.
From a medical point of view we must be ready for a whole variety of potential injuries that may result from on-water mishaps such as collision, capsize, man-overboard and rapid deceleration, also known as “stuffing the bows”.
The racing rules stipulate that every America’s Cup team should be self-sufficient with respect to dealing with any incidents that may occur on the water involving race yachts. Each team must have all the necessary training, equipment and manpower to manage on-water medical emergencies from the site of the incident to the emergency drop point for transfer to our local emergency services.
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One of our two medical support boats with a physician, a paramedic and a rescue swimmer aboard will be on hand in the race area at all times ready to assist competitors if the need arises. The race area will be very busy with dozens of other vessels including television and press, guest chasers, team support and umpires following the race yachts at high speed.
Our medical support boat will be first responder for any incidents involving these vessels.
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Red Bull Youth America’s Cup official practice will take place in the Little Sound and Murray’s Anchorage; racing will take place in the Great Sound. Twelve teams of young sailors including our very own Team BDA will be racing foiling 45s at high speed.
One of our medical boats will be in attendance at all times supplemented by a Bermuda Marine Police vessel providing rescue diver support.
Medical boat support will also be provided for the Superyacht Regatta to be held on offshore waters at the East End of the island.
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We will be operating a medical clinic, the AC Clinic, in one of the newly renovated units at Prince Alfred Terrace just outside the AC Village. The AC Clinic will be run by St John Ambulance and will be staffed by physicians, nurses, paramedics and first-aiders.
Patients with significant injuries or serious medical conditions will be stabilised at the clinic prior to transport to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The AC Clinic will also serve as the advanced medical post in the event of a multiple casualty incident at the America’s Cup Village.
The village will be patrolled by St John Ambulance. Patients with serious injuries or medical conditions will receive initial treatment at the AC Clinic and if needed be transported to KEMH by ambulance or medical support boat.
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Bottom line: successful delivery of medical support for the 35th America’s Cup will be achieved by efficient utilisation of Bermuda’s resources including KEMH, BPS, BFRS and St John Ambulance.
Dr Froncioni is the medical director for the 35th America’s Cup