Behind the (Medical) Scenes at the Tour of Richmond

A huge number of police, fire and EMS personnel worked together flawlessly to provide a smooth ride for participants in the first-ever MARTIN's Tour of Richmond.

One hundred and seventy-four. This is the number of personnel involved in the Central Virginia All Hazards Incident Management Team (CVAHIMT), the entity responsible for coordinating emergency medical services for the first-ever MARTIN’s Tour of Richmond cycling event held on Saturday, October 6.

Twenty-nine of those 174 individuals handled the management, while the rest were out in the field covering all 102 miles of the cycling route, which passed through eight different jurisdictions in the Richmond region. This multidisciplinary team consisted of police, fire, EMS, and representatives from other agencies.

“When we work together either for event management or for training, we’re all coming together in different roles and responsibilities,” said Rick Edinger, CVAHIMT Planning Section Chief. “We train together, we practice together, and then periodically for events like this, we’ll come together and help manage an event.”

Inside the Tour of Richmond/CVAHIMT Command Center

While they meet for training regularly, it is not as common to come together for events of the size and complexity of the MARTIN’s Tour of Richmond. Nearly 1,000 riders took part in the new cycling event.

“If we are successful in our planning component, that takes the burden of that and allows the Sports Backers to focus on other aspects of the event,” said Bryan Swanson, CVAHIMT Planning Section Deputy.

And successful they were.

The smooth coordination among police, fire, and EMS did not go unnoticed by participants on the course, as they have been raving about it on Facebook and through other outlets ever since. Here’s a taste of some of the comments:

  •  “The Tour nailed logistics perfectly. Law enforcement en route was great for everyone - not just the fast movers. The fire stations and churches who hosted rest stops were fantastic - please thank all those good folks for me.” – Leo Boyd
  • “Police presence was awesome! We did the 59 mile ride and literally only had to unclip and stop at one intersection! Awesome job!” – Jane Chambers
  • “The Martin's Tour of Richmond was an EXCELLENT experience for my first century ride! As everyone else has said, the law enforcement officers did an amazing job and I felt so privileged to ride through intersections without stopping even though I was not in the lead group. HUGE thanks to law enforcement.” – Kristen Jensen
  •  “Fantastic Job! I was so impressed with the apparent flawless coordination between all the law enforcement jurisdictions and the excellent support both in the aid stations and on the course. I didn't have to stop a single time for the entire 102 mile course and I was nowhere near the leaders. I really don't see how it could get any better than yesterday!” – Mark Bates
  • “Law Enforcement's handling of traffic was one of the best parts.” – Anthony LaRocca

Since August, the CVAHIMT had been busy committing resources, contacting localities, spreading awareness of the event, and establishing resources to ensure that medical transport units would be available to assist with cyclists.

Dave Pulliam, CVAHIMT Unified Command, attributes the success of the activation to the advance planning. “This group has been working for months to get to this. That’s the big difference. We can prepare for this. If an incident happens, we don’t have the months of preparation.” 

Typically, the CVAHIMT is called on to serve in project management roles or to coordinate efforts related to localized disasters. They’ve worked on medical responses to a tornado tearing through Dinwiddie, Va. in April 2011 and New Kent’s aftermath of Hurricane Irene in September 2011. The team sees an event like the Tour of Richmond as a training opportunity.

“Even though this is a planned event, there are the same moving pieces we would have in the event of an emergency,” said Jennifer Reese, Situation Unit Leader for CVAHIMT. 

For the Tour of Richmond, everything was comprehensively thought through. Each rider had a label on their bib with a medical phone number in case of an emergency. That number connected callers to the command center, where the medical branch receiving the call would take down the injured person’s bib number, collect his or her coordinates, and dispatch the appropriate medical resources to assist the individual.

And, it wasn’t only medical responsibilities on event day for the CVAHIMT. They made sure aid stations were set up and ready for the riders. They were in constant communication with the SAG crew. They were constantly monitoring where the lead pack was to alert the police officers stationed on the course.

With the help of new Blue Force technology, the team was able to plant trackers on the motorcycle policeman that escorted the riders as well as the policeman following behind the last rider.

“For an event this large that travels through rural areas, it’s not easy to determine where the beginning and end of your field is,” said Edinger. “That technology we used was invaluable to know where the event was.”

He added, “For us, it goes beyond the fact that someone has crashed their bike and needs an ambulance or medical unit. It is situational awareness.”

A total of 174 personnel combined with a 35-page operational planning manual, and months of planning resulted in one of the best-organized medical staffs a Sports Backers event has ever seen. Hats off to the Central Virginia All Hazards Incident Management Team for a job well done.

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