Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Paul Wright | AEDs, PPEs no joking matter!

Published:Tuesday | February 19, 2019 | 12:24 AM
Persons competing in the 21st staging of the Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run on Sunday. The event had a record 27,000 participants.

The editorial in The Sunday Gleaner: ‘Five years after Cavahn McKenzie’, was very timely as it coincided with the staging of the biggest road race in the English-speaking Caribbean, the 21st staging of the Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run. The race at Emancipation Park in Kingston attracted more than 27,000 participants and featured the old, the young, the fit and unfit, the able and disabled, the overweight and the underweight, and the rich and the poor.

As the editorial stated, sports have been under the microscope following a series of tragedies that have occurred in different sports. The editorial suggests that the minister of sport, the Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange initiate a programme that would make available to ALL high-school athletes a high-quality pre participation examination (PPE), which would go a long way in limiting, but not excluding, the tragedy of death while participating in sports.

The Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run started on time, and, at the end, the medical tent situated at the end of the chute near the finish line had seen and treated 57 participants with medical problems and 15 with injuries that required the services of the many physiotherapists stationed there. On the medical side, two runners had to be transferred to hospital – one with an obvious fracture of his right tibia, and one with signs of an acute abdomen that may need surgical intervention.

The other medical problems ranged from chest pain, asthma, headaches, nausea and stomach pains to the usual sprains and strains. One participant at the finish line complained of tiredness. Examination on the spot revealed an abnormal heart rate, but the runner explained that her doctor had diagnosed her with an exercise-induced arrhythmia, that would settle with rest. It did. But that and the paucity of medical interventions in an event with more than 27,000 participants, PLUS an equal number of onlookers, is amazing. The preliminary figure of 72 (minus those treated en route by medical and ambulance crews strategically placed on the course) must rate as some sort of record. If only the minister will accept the suggestion ofThe Gleaner’s editorial, those numbers would decrease.

Also on Sunday, word came that Kemoy Campbell, who collapsed during the Millrose Games on February 9 and had his life saved by an automated external defibrillator (AED), was out of the Intensive Care Unit at hospital, walking, and conversing and may be discharged by the end of the week! The ambulances at the race had AEDs, and one was available in the medical tent at the finish line. Good news. What was particularly troubling was the unofficial word from practitioners that not every hospital in Jamaica has an AED available for use if a patient, worker or visitor suffers a cardiac event that needs the use of this essential piece of equipment.


Yesterday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport began to hear arguments that will have a profound effect on the future of World and Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya. The IAAF will argue that because of her naturally produced testosterone levels, which are far in excess of those seen in other women competing in track and field, Ms Semenya has an unfair advantage when competing against women with lower testosterone levels. Their argument is based on the medical fact that her high and unusual testosterone levels increase muscle size and strength, and also increase haemoglobin levels during puberty. This fact is what makes men have a huge performance advantage (PW1) over women.

To counter this (unfair) advantage, the IAAF suggests that any woman with this condition should undergo medical treatment designed to reduce her testosterone levels for a continuous period of six months before being eligible to compete, as before, over distances that the IAAF have evidence that a high testosterone level does in fact result in an unfair advantage – 400m to a mile. The South African government and Semenya’s legal team will argue that she has no control over her hormone levels recorded by tests. As Semenya has asserted, “I am a woman, and I run fast.” The decision of the court will have a profound effect on the future of a level playing field in sports.