Leading emergency care of athletes
25 July 2012
With only two days to go before the Olympics we caught up with Dr Claire Emerson (Consultant, A&E Department) who will be leading the team of doctors and physiotherapists who treat athletes who get ill or injured while competing.
Dr Claire Emerson (Consultant, A&E Department)
How are you involved in the Olympic Games?
My official title is “Field of Play Recovery Team Leader” at the North Greenwich Arena. Basically I’ll be leading the team of doctors and physiotherapists who run on and treat athletes who get ill or injured while they’re competing. The sports I’ll be covering are gymnastics, the basketball finals, and trampolining. When competitors are injured in trampolining, it tends to be rather hairy!
Why did you choose to sign up?
I’m very keen on almost all Olympic sports and have been lucky enough to go to several Olympic Games as a spectator, so I definitely wanted to be involved as soon as I knew the 2012 Games were coming to my home town! I’m hoping to use all my experience in Emergency and Sports Medicine to do my little bit to make the Games a fantastic success.
Have you done anything like this before?
Yes—I did a Masters in Sports Medicine while I was an Emergency Medicine Registrar and since then have done a lot of work with the British gymnastics team, travelling as the team doctor to such glamorous places as Azerbaijan and Bulgaria (by coach because it was during the Icelandic volcano!).
I’ve also done field of play cover at two previous gymnastics events at the North Greenwich Arena (as the O2 will be known during the Games)—the 2009 World Championships and the Olympics test event at the start of this year—which I’m sure will prove to be very valuable experience.
Last summer I was one of the GB team doctors at the World University Games in China, which is the second largest multisport event after the Olympics, so I have some experience of sports events on a massive scale. At that event I had to resuscitate one of the GB football team after she had a respiratory arrest during a match, with very little equipment, in the middle of nowhere and without being able to communicate with anyone at the venue.
I’m very much looking forward to the London Ambulance Service being on standby and some excellent NHS hospitals being nearby for these Games!
What are you most looking forward to?
Just being part of the Games Maker workforce. There are 60,000 volunteers and the amount of enthusiasm, pride and dedication on display at the various training events I’ve been to has been overwhelming.
I can’t begin to imagine how much that will be amplified when it comes to actual Games time—I can’t wait!