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Caring for athletes at Port Macquarie’s Ironman

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16th May, 2024

Our Port Macquarie pathology staff are regulars at the region’s annual Ironman event, providing instant test results for the medical team and helping competitors make it safely through the grueling race.

Iron­man Aus­tralia is the longest-run­ning Iron­man event in Aus­tralia and the 4th old­est in the world, held in the beau­ti­ful coastal town of Port Mac­quar­ie in May each year.

This year’s event on 5 May attract­ed more than 2700 ath­letes who swam, biked and ran the course that took them through the cen­tre of Port Mac­quar­ie, the sur­round­ing coun­try­side and along the region’s stun­ning coastline.

Karen Mewett is the Coor­di­na­tor of NSW Health Pathology’s Mid North Coast Point of Care Test­ing Ser­vice, which pro­vides vital care at the Iron­man med­ical tent each year.

“I cov­ered both the half Iron­man and the full Iron­man events, so it was a very long day, 9.30am to mid­night!” she said.

“My col­league, Tonia Wood­ber­ry vol­un­teered from 4pm to mid­night as we are nor­mal­ly much busier in the evening, espe­cial­ly if it’s wet and very cold.

“We nor­mal­ly get more requests after sun­down as the ath­letes can present with hypother­mia but although there was some rain, the tem­per­a­ture this year was quite pleas­ant and a much bet­ter out­come that orig­i­nal­ly expected.

“The main prob­lem this year was not the heat of the day or the cold of the night, but the treach­er­ous con­di­tions on the slip­pery roads.”

An aerial photo of the race at Port Macquarie near the coast.
The annu­al Iron­man event attracts thou­sands of com­peti­tors to Port Mac­quar­ie each year. (Sup­plied: Iron­man Oceania)

Med­ical direc­tor for Iron­man Aus­tralia, Simon Ross, said a total of 132 ath­letes attend­ed the med­ical tent on race day, with 9 of those trans­ferred to hos­pi­tal for var­i­ous reasons.

“Our med­ical response cov­ered mobile medics on motor­bikes, con­tract­ed ambu­lances, two med­ical tents, sta­t­ic first aid sta­tions, fin­ish line catch­es and Point of Care Testing.

“The wet weath­er increased the num­ber of bike acci­dents but over­all, the cool­er weath­er kept num­bers low­er than in 2023.

“Point of Care Test­ing plays a sig­nif­i­cant part of our med­ical response as it allows real time results that would only be avail­able if we trans­ferred the ath­lete to hospital.

“This could impact our health sys­tem and cause yet anoth­er strain on the local hospital.

“Our med­ical team is well known around the world amongst triath­letes. Con­ver­sa­tions between ath­letes praise the med­ical response we pro­vide and how they all feel safe rac­ing here as they know they are well cared for in the event they need med­ical assistance.

“We have been nom­i­nat­ed as a final­ist in the local health district’s upcom­ing awards under the vol­un­teer of the year category.”

NSW Health Pathol­o­gy would like to con­grat­u­late the entire med­ical team at Iron­man Aus­tralia for the care they pro­vide, as well as our awe­some Point of Care Test­ing volunteers!

A blue Ironman medal
Ath­letes are recog­nised for com­plet­ing the Ironman.(Supplied: Iron­man Oceania)


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