Protect yourself on Race Day by registering with RaceSafe

Contributed by Scott Benbow, an Ambassador for The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon

Three years ago, I was approaching the finish line of a half-marathon in San Francisco, when I ran by a medical tent and saw a man writhing in pain, screaming loudly and panicking.  Medical personnel, who fortunately were on the scene and trying to help him, needed to figure out what ailed him. One physician asked him to state his name. He continued screaming and was unable to answer. The physician asked if he was allergic to anything. Again, no answer, just more screams.

The finish-line chute carried me farther and farther away from the distressed man, but I heard him for about five full minutes. By the time I made it back to the area near the tent, he had been whisked away in an ambulance. I have no idea what caused the man so much pain, but his dreadful experience impressed on me how important it is for medical personnel to have access to vital information as quickly as possible about patients in distress.

Every second counts, for example, when medical personnel are treating someone experiencing cardiac arrest. Unlike the man screaming at the half-marathon, someone in cardiac arrest may be unconscious. Thus, medical personnel have no way to get answers to important medical questions.

The American Heart Association reports that brain death and permanent death can begin within minutes. Resuscitation rarely succeeds after ten minutes. If medical personnel have access to the medical records of a person in cardiac arrest when they begin their treatment, it is more likely that crucial seconds will be saved in stabilizing the patient.

For races like The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon, 1st Half, 2nd Half, 5K, and Ultramarathon – which will have a total of over 26,000 runners this year – there is at least a 1 in 200,000 chance that someone in that large crowd will suffer cardiac arrest or a less familiar emergency condition during the race. Fortunately, for those participating in any of the distances on July 31, there is an easy and confidential way for you to protect yourself in case of emergency.

UCSF sport medicine physician and avid runner Anthony Luke designed RaceSafe to achieve better health outcomes in runners who suffer injuries and emergency conditions during and after races. By sharing one’s medical information securely on RaceSafe’s online platform, a volunteer race physician or medic encountering an emergency situation can, by entering the runner’s bib number, immediately determine who the person is, his age, his medical history, any allergies, and additional relevant information. Also, at the medic’s fingertips will be the name, telephone number, and email address of an emergency contact. This system has hospital grade security so you can trust your information is protected. RaceSafe is brought to you by The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon and is one of several ways the race is looking out for your safety and hoping you and your loved ones have a great experience.

I urge you to visit the website and enter your information. It took me less than five minutes to create a profile and complete the form. In all likelihood, you will not need medical attention during this race. But if you do, your caregivers will be able to assess your situation quickly, decide on a course of action with clarity, and respond confidently.

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