Retired Lancaster doctor at heart of Olympic action in Rio

Former Royal Lancaster Infirmary consultant anaesthetist Dr John Davies is volunteering in the medical team at the Rio Olympics. Here's part five of his diary...

Monday, 15th August 2016, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 15th August 2016, 12:24 pm
Dr John Davies, who will be volunteering as a medic at the Rio Olympics. He is pictured during his stint at the London Olympics in 2012.

Today for me was what the Olympics are all about! A cloudless sky over the stadium, track and field in the oval, and I was in nominal charge of Fop2, the second Field of Play team after the finishing line.

That is fixed – it has all the photo and electronic stuff on it – and starts are arranged variously according to event’s lengths.

Nominal, because I asked my Brazilian GP colleague to hold the leader’s radio, as my Portuguese would be inadequate.

A cubicle in the base.

We had all that kit I showed before out there, and went through a rehearsal of the use of a spinal board, basket stretcher and trolley, for a collapsed person and went through the emergency bags we carry, airway kit, folding splints, bandages and so on.

I am reassured that my colleagues and I can work together through the international language of medicine!

Our chief is an orthopaedic surgeon with international experience of that, and as an athletic competitor.

He warned that our shift included two of the most dangerous athletics disciplines after pole vault – cross country and the triple (hop, skip and) jump!

A cubicle in the base.

Both have a significant risk of lower limb injury, sometimes severe, but although we did have an incident, no one was injured and it allowed a competitor to show the highest competitive Olympic spirit.

As one of four Fop teams on the park, a low hurdle for the cross country race was in our sector and right in front of us.

Unlike hurdle sprints, all the runners use the same hurdle, and that is where there is a risk of accident, usually when someone trips on the hurdle, or on landing.

The second led to several runners colliding and falling, but although we were out of our seats, they all got up again.

But one had lost her shoe; putting it back on would waste too much to me, so she threw it away and raced on, finishing the race that way to enormous cheers from the crowd.

Our session also included eight heats for the 100m, but only in the last did we see the Olympic champion, the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt, who just strolled to win his heat, as he should.

But another runner in the same heat must have tried beyond his ability to beat the great man and collapsed once over the finishing line.

This was in the sector of our colleagues in Fop1, who packaged him into the stretcher and trolley, and off to the Medical Centre in no time, where I’m told he recovered and was able to walk out and back to his home team.

Another Olympian, giving more than was humanly possible.