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Amgen Bike Tour

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06/01/2016

When AMR provides onsite medical coverage at an event, our staff doesn’t just provide medical care; we apply years of planning and logistics experience to each event to ensure our teams are where they need to be at the right time.
 
One example of this highly tuned coordination is the Amgen Tour of California, which AMR has supported since the event’s launch 12 years ago. It’s the biggest cycling event on the pro circuit in North America and one of the top five notable races below the Tour de France.
 
Our team, led by Eric Marxmiller, Paramedic; Dean Anderson, Regional Director; Leslie Sincock, Business Development Manager; and Jacqueline Parker, Finance Manager; begin planning how to provide EMS services and transport for athletes, crew and spectators five months prior to race time. Marxmiller develops an operations package with his recommendations for staff coverage, communications, vehicles and other logistical details, accounting for the race course’s terrain, span between locations (called “stages”) and the impact on the urban and suburban communities that the course winds through.
 
In 2017, the 10-day tour began May 11 in South Lake Tahoe for the women’s competition, which lasted four days. The men’s competition began May 14, which was the last day of the women’s competition – a feat of coordination to adequately staff both portions of the tour. The longest day of the men’s competition spanned 300 miles with a 115-mile race in the middle. Marxmiller and his team started their day in Sacramento, then drove to Modesto, then to San Jose over a mountain, and then drove for three hours after the race to San Luis Obispo to be in position for the next day’s stage of competition. To coordinate staff, locations, clock-in and clock-out times and more, Marxmiller uses a complex matrix to ensure adequate coverage and travel time. In all, the AMR team logged more than 2,500 miles of travel during this year’s event.
 
The clinical piece of AMR’s service includes basic life support (BLS) units (referred to as mobile first aid units at this event and paired with a doctor's car in the caravan), ALS ambulances (typically van style, which are narrower and can be driven alongside cyclists along twisting roads), supply and gear vehicles (SAGs), an EMS Command Vehicle (SUV) and an event coordinator EMS liaison.
 
If cyclist falls, a team of clinicians is dispatched to the location if the injury seems serious, or a motorcycle with provider as a passenger is deployed. Injuries like road rash and broken bones are not uncommon. The team’s goal is to tend to medical issues as quickly as possible to enable cyclists to rejoin the pack if they are able.
 
If the injury requires transport for more specialized care, Marxmiller and a physician will stay with the injured cyclist until ALS providers and the mobile first aid unit arrive. The patient will be loaded into the rig and transported, and Marxmiller will catch up to the rest of the caravan with the assistance of California Highway Patrol.
 
For non-emergent issues, medical staff in convertible cars or minivans will quickly tend to those needing simple bandages, allergy medication or sun block.
 
“We don’t just provide medical coverage but deploy a core group of seasoned providers who can work within and outside of our organization to understand the magnitude of each event that we’re supporting and provide services customized for that event,” explained Marxmiller, who has been involved with the tour for eight years. “This tour required two levels of service: medical and operational, but not every event requires that scope. We can manage an event even if we’re not providing 100 percent of the medical coverage. AMR has local, regional, national and even global resources that we can tap to provide the right level of service.”
 
Marxmiller monitors a litany of communications channels during the event to coordinate services and supplies, respond to local radio traffic that may affect the caravan, and ensure staff and cyclist safety along the route. This involves channels dedicated to first responders, local EMS services, aircraft communications above the course and the race radio for event staff, which includes 10 communication channels.
 
“Every day and every stage of this competition has its own unique conditions and challenges,” Marxmiller explained. “During some stages there were intense uphills, other stages included stretches of flat racing through the levies of Sacramento, and another was marked by racing 60 m.p.h. downhill racing into Pasadena. Cyclists can overtake a vehicle at those speeds, so we need to be alert and get out of the way when needed.”
 
Supporting the tour is a great fit for Marxmiller’s skillset. He is an EMT, paramedic, former field supervisor, event coordinator and EMT instructor and has participated in ultra endurance race operations and medical events all over the world. Assisting Marxmiller with race-day operations were Ryan Vincent, who handled mobile EMT services and vehicle deployment, and Ryan Eastman, an EMT in Yolo County who previously competed in the Amgen Tour of California and is uniquely able to understand the needs of the event’s competitors.
 
For more information about our Event Medical Services, visit https://www.amr.net/solutions/event-medical.