Genesis Staff Prepares For Another Quad-City Times Bix 7
The first year there was a medical facility for the Quad-City Times Bix 7, the facility consisted of a tank filled with water.
In 1979, the medical team was organized by Mercy Hospital. When Mercy and St. Luke's merged in 1994, Genesis Health System took over the volunteer effort and has organized the event’s medical facility every year since.
Many families return year after year to help out. Clinical professionals bring their families. Working the Bix medical tent has become a family tradition.
Non-clinical volunteers also return year after year to fill a volunteer list of about 150. There are now second-generation volunteers in the medical tent.
The care provided by the team can be intense. And, it can save lives. On nearly every race day there is a period when the available cots in the tent fill up quickly with overheated runners and walkers. The volunteers also routinely see cuts, scrapes and blisters.
It isn't uncommon for confused runners to be carried into the tent with body temperatures of 103 degrees or higher.
The medical tent also sees patients with chronic breathing problems, nausea and cuts and scrapes from falls.
But the greatest concern is weather. Even on a cooler day, volunteers are usually busy for at least a brief period. On a hot, humid day, the tent can take on the appearance of a field hospital during a disaster.
The volunteers watch the temperature closely for race day. A temperature of about 80 degrees at race time seems to translate into a busy day in the medical tent.
Two years are memorable for long-time volunteers:
2006 -- The temperature was 82 degrees at race time. About 140 overheated runners and walkers were treated in the tent and an unusually high number, 25, were transported to hospitals. Six people were admitted to the hospital.
1997 -- A total of 220 runners and walkers were treated in the tent. A total of 48 patients were transported to the hospital and 11 spent at least one night in the hospital.
Key changes have reduced the traffic to the tent.
One change was the race's addition of the Quick Bix in 1999. If seven miles seems too long, participants are encouraged to try the Quick Bix. The shorter course can reduce the toll of heat on the body.
Second, the electronic timing chips being used have reduced congestion in the finishing chutes. The close quarters at the finish were previously a factor in the health of runners and walkers.
Third, MEDIC EMS now takes sick race participants directly to the hospital rather than taking them to the medical tent first.
And perhaps most importantly, the medical team now has access to air-conditioned tents. The medical team would prefer to cool down overheated runners and walkers on site rather than transferring a patient to the hospital.
The medical tent requires weeks of planning and coordination between a number of agencies, including the local health systems, police and fire, the City of Davenport, Medic EMS, Scott County Emergency Management, federal law enforcement and other disaster services.
On Saturday, there will be six teams of care givers available. Each team will have at least one doctor and a team leader who is a nurse, plus additional medical staff and non-clinical volunteers.
Supplies on the pre-race checklist include tents, 36 cots from the American Red Cross, 75 20-pound bags of ice, porta-potties, hundreds of bottles of water, and all of the IV bottles, wraps, thermometers, prescription medications and medical equipment needed to treat a surge of patients in a short time.
Bix participants can do their part to stay out of the medical tent on race day by hydrating before, during and after the race, knowing the warning signs of heat-related illness and listening to their body. If you aren't feeling well, slow down, walk, or walk off the course to rest for a minute or two.
Here are the signs of heat-related illness:
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature may be normal, or is likely to be rising.
Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, red skin; possible changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be as high as 105 degrees F. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry.