Sometimes an idea is born out of tragedy. For veteran endurance athlete Andy Voggenthaler, his spark of inspiration came after watching another athlete suffer a fatal heart attack during a triathlon. He started thinking about all the injuries and accidents that happen over the course of a race and how they rarely take place near a first aid station or medical tent. What if there were trained people running in the race that could keep small injuries from becoming major medical issues? So, in 2012 Voggenthaler founded Race Guards, a volunteer-based medical response nonprofit that provides in-race first aid.
Running in teams of two at various paces staggered throughout the race, Race Guards are trained to look for anyone in distress. Every Race Guard volunteer is certified in first aid, CPR, the use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), and carries a pack of medical supplies, including ACE™ Brand Elastic Bandages and Nexcare™ bandages (both are title sponsors). According to Voggenthaler, the majority of Race Guards team members are medical professionals and all are endurance athletes looking to give back. Race Guards work with the medical director and medical support team at the events to provide medical support from start to finish. Last year, approximately 700 active Race Guards supported more than 30 races (ranging from 1,000 to over 40,000 participants) across the country and are looking to increase those numbers in 2016. Voggenthaler told Running USA recently that in 2015 Race Guards had five CPR saves on course, and in any given race, some form of assistance is provided to 100 – 500 participants. With more people putting endurance racing on their bucket list or simply wanting to try a fun run, participants might not have the proper training or race experience to finish a race without injury. Race Guards is simply another layer of support on race day to help everyone cross the finish line—safely.
Photo via: The San Diego Union-Tribune
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