Safety first at the Cape Town Cycle Tour

Posted on 8 Oct 2021

For many years, Mediclinic has played a key role in partnering with event organisers to stage a safe and successful Cape Town Cycle Tour. That role is expanding, as we respond in real time to new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The goalposts keep moving, new evidence keeps emerging. Through all of that, safety comes first,” says Dr Darren Green, Race Medical Director at the 2021 Cape Town Cycle Tour, and Mediclinic’s eventing medicine specialist .

October in Cape Town is packed with world-class mass-participation running and cycling events, including the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and Absa Cape Epic. These events bring a range of complex risk-mitigation factors, each expertly managed by Dr Green’s team of paramedics, nurses, and race-day doctors.

This year, those factors are multiplied.

“With each event, the layers of risk mitigation have to be extremely creative and individually planned, given the diversity of circumstances across various sporting codes,” Dr Green explains. “Usually, we look at volumes of people involved, the type of activity, areas and environment, weather, community disease status, local infrastructure and setup, numbers of travelling participants, and more.”

Now, at a time when much of the world is fighting the spread of coronavirus disease, there’s even more for the team to consider.

“Isolation and quarantine areas. Screening procedures and requirements. Access to testing facilities and financial implications, population-specific risks of amateurs and professionals. Our COVID-10 planning starts way in advance of the event, both with event organisers and athlete communications – detailing risks and responsibilities before, during and after each event.”

In accordance with government guidelines, Cycling SA (CSA) will need to ensure that participants at the 2021 Cape Town Cycle Tour are fully vaccinated or return a negative result via a rapid antigen test before they can register for the race. Participants are considered to be fully vaccinated if they’ve had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with the second dose having been received a minimum of seven days prior to the event, or if they have received one dose of the J&J vaccine at least a minimum of 28 days before the event.

But ensuring that participants are vaccinated is only the beginning of a complex, multi-layered risk mitigation approach to keep everyone involved as safe as possible, Dr Green says. Each event organiser is required to appoint a COVID-19 compliance officer for the mitigation, planning and implementation of the overarching event COVID-19 plan .

“We carefully manage every detail – from spacing and floor plan distancing to cleaning procedures and routine infection prevention practices, a prioritised fast-tracked respiratory triage process, flow processes, access and exits. We follow our policy guidelines in treating patients as per hospital and emergency centre standards, always putting safety first.”

Mediclinic plays a crucial role in helping the event organisers meet strict criteria set out by the Provincial Events Inspectorate and National Department of Health. In order to host 18 000 riders at this year’s event, Mediclinic needed to draw up a detailed medical operational plan, with the participation of a medical advisory group (comprising an infectious disease specialist and virologist), as well as the race director, head of health and safety, and COVID-19 compliance officer.

To ensure the medical team is better equipped to care for participants in the event of a medical emergency, all participants must also complete a confidential medical pre-screening questionnaire, specifically designed to prevent adverse outcomes at mass participation events.

“In addition to emergency care on race day, this form also assists us with resource planning and distribution, proactive risk assessment and management,” says Dr Green. “It’s been used across a number of international profile events, including the Cape Town Cycle Tour, Absa Cape Epic and Sanlam Cape Town Marathon.”


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