Volunteers aid runners at Rock ā€˜nā€™ Roll Half Marathon

By Cory Lukens 

For most participants of the recent Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon in Dallas, the race was an opportunity to have some fun and test the limits of their physical endurance.

UT Southwestern volunteers hard at work inside a finish line medical tent.

But for the more than 140 UT Southwestern Medical Center employees who provided voluntary on-site medical care, it was a way to prepare for something a little more serious. The half marathon, and the steady stream of runners that it produced needing medical assistance, gave them a taste of what a large-scale medical emergency might look and feel like.

“I never imagined what it is like to have ill and injured people coming in one after the other. But it was very rewarding for me,” said Terry Capone, safety specialist with Environmental Services. “The very eye-opening training I received there was better than any drill we’ve ever done.”

The UT Southwestern contingent was made up of employees from across the institution, including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, students, lab technicians, administrators and staff members. They worked at aid stations located along the race route and at the finish line at Fair Park.

While the physicians and nurses attended to the runners’ medical needs, every volunteer performed an important role. Some checked in patients and directed them to stations inside the medical tent. Others coordinated treatment, including applying dressings and reducing swelling, pain, or inflammation. Volunteers tended to as many as 10 patients at any given time.

“True team building developed very quickly as people from all departments tackled the problems at hand,” said Dr. Robert Dimeff, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Family and Community Medicine, and Pediatrics.

Amber Kozak, clinical nurse manager at St. Paul University Hospital, added, “The teamwork was amazing. I adore and respect my UT Southwestern colleagues, and the Dallas Fire Department, more than ever.”

Dr. Dimeff estimated the UT Southwestern team evaluated and treated more than 300 runners at the finish-line tents. Seven patients were transported to area hospitals, representing a large decline from the number of transports two years ago, when the event first was held in Dallas.

He said he was impressed with the teamwork and cooperation that occurred with Dallas Fire-Rescue and EMT personnel.

“This is the best emergency service team I have ever worked with, and we look forward to working with them at future events,” Dr. Dimeff said.