For racers in the New York City Marathon, the battle doesn’t always end at the finish line. That’s why nearly two dozen physicians, medical students, and nurses from NYU Winthrop Hospital and NYU Long Island School of Medicine volunteered to provide acute care for racers in need of urgent medical care as they crossed the finish line. The volunteers helped man a massive, acute care tent, which held enough cots to provide triage for more than 1,700 runners and included an intensive care unit (ICU) for serious medical issues. Where one battle ended—runners finishing the race—the next battle began—to send them home healthy.
NYU Winthrop medical volunteers hailed from all over Long Island including from Melville, Merrick, Smithtown, and Cutchogue, as well as from points further afield such as Miami and Rockville, Maryland. They tended to issues that included dehydration; hypothermia and hyperthermia (temperatures too low or high), and rhabdomyolysis—a potentially dangerous condition involving a breakdown of muscle tissue into the bloodstream that can lead to kidney damage. Other runners suffered from hyponatremia, their bodies diluted of crucial sodium from drinking too much water along the way, and on the flip side were those under-hydrated with hyponatremia, both conditions presenting risks such as an altered mental state or more serious problems.
“Caring for these bold and ambitious runners was such a rewarding experience for our medical team,” added James Ciancarelli, MD, chief resident at NYU Winthrop Hospital. “The experience has now inspired in us the goal of serving on medical teams in the five major marathons in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.”
Prior to assisting with the New York City Marathon, the medical volunteers were required to attend lengthy medical orientation sessions in New York in order to be credentialed for the marathon.