We all know how important training is to effective emergency response. That point was driven home again during Monday morning’s opening session at Fire-Rescue Med 2013.
Dr. David Zideman, the clinical lead for Emergency Medical Services for the London Organizing Committee of Olympic and Paralympic Games, spoke about his experience during the summer of 2012. “The event went about as smoothly as it could have,” Zideman said, “thanks in large part to the four years of preparation before the 14-day ceremony and the training rehearsals that were held in advance.”
There were about 1,400 volunteers working medical, including doctors, nurses and first responders. They were all put through general training, role training, venue-specific training, daily scenario training and test event training.
“We trained our team to know exactly what was going to happen,” Zideman said. “We wanted to make sure everybody knew what they needed to do.”
Zideman delivered a comprehensive overview of the planning, implementation and execution of emergency response during the 2012 games. “In an event of this magnitude, no detail can be spared,” he said.
In total, there were 38,362 medical “encounters” reported during the 2012 Olympics. Encounters encompassed everything from a headache to a major cardiac event (of which there were only two).
“Interestingly, there was a great deal of planning for things that never happened,” Zideman said. Terrorism is a major concern for organizers of major sporting events and Zideman said there were numerous threats, including an anthrax attack, shootings, bombings, etc.
“Terrorism was a major concern. We had a huge security presence. We had the sites locked down for a year before the games began,” Zideman said. “Every spectator was searched, all the athletes were searched. … We were prepared for the threats.”
After spending four years preparing for an exhilarating event that lasted just two weeks, Zideman admitted he was a bit “sad” when the Olympic flame was dissolved.
“The Olympic experience was amazing,” Zideman said. “Having lived through amazing four-year experience and I came out different. Experience was truly amazing.”