It's a long list: sprains, strains, heat exhaustion, dehydration and breathing and heart problems -- even chafing.
On Sunday, as thousands of runners take to the streets for the Pittsburgh Marathon and Half-Marathon, medical personnel with the race will be prepared to deal with the wide range of conditions and medical problems that typically assail race participants.
But they'll also be prepared for a grimmer reality: traumatic injuries, like the ones seen at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. After twin bombs exploded at the Boston finish line on April 15, race organizers and medical personnel adjusted their plans and protocols and took advice from their counterparts in Boston.
At a news conference Wednesday, Mark Bocian, the city's acting chief of emergency medical services, and Ronald Roth, a doctor of emergency medicine with UPMC and the city's medical director, detailed some of those measures.
"Medical preparation for the marathon is really a yearlong thing, but as you can imagine the tragedy in Boston has prompted us to take an even closer look at what we do here in Pittsburgh," Dr. Roth said.
He spoke with two UPMC-trained colleagues in Boston who staffed the finish line medical tent that was suddenly inundated with bombing victims.
"This, along with our internal conversations with the marathon, with the city of Pittsburgh and with Allegheny County, resulted in us bringing additional equipment to our finish line and taking additional steps to make sure that the runners, the spectators and our volunteers will be safe at this year's marathon," Dr. Roth said.
"One [of] the things they would have liked to have had at the finish line are tourniquets," he said, speaking of what he learned from his Boston colleagues. "So we have tourniquets as well as additional trauma gear."
Chief Bocian said that he participated in a conference call with the chief of emergency medical services in Boston after the terrorist attacks. The attacks prompted EMS to adjust some of its plans, staging medical apparatus closer to the finish line, for example.
But, as in most races, the primary threat to runners is weather. Race organizers will closely monitor six special thermometers along the course that measure the wet bulb temperature, a metric that takes into account ambient heat, radiant heat and humidity to gauge the likelihood of heat-related injuries on the course.
Sunday's weather is not expected to get into the danger zone -- the forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 72 -- but flags posted at aid stations will let runners know if they should take it easy. Green and yellow flags signal that runners can proceed as they normally would, but if a red flag is flown, it's because organizers are advising runners to slow their pace. A black flag may indicate the race has been stopped and runners are instructed to follow directions from race officials.
There will already be 15 aid stations along the course along with a "field hospital" at the finish line. The aid stations will be stocked with, among other things, 7,500 adhesive bandages, 150 vomit bags, more than 400 feet of intravenous tubing, 125 jars of petroleum jelly and at least one sign: "Don't eat the Vaseline."
Additionally, there will be more medical staff on hand. Dr. Roth said the event usually draws around 300 volunteers from UPMC, including doctors, nurses and certified athletic trainers. This year, around 400 signed up.
The city paramedics working the race announced last week that they would donate their wages to the One Fund Boston, which supports victims of the Boston bombings. Since the announcement, more paramedics have volunteered to work, he said.
In a related development, the U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday it will remove its collection boxes along the route of the Pittsburgh Marathon this weekend as a security precaution.
Moriah Balingit: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published May 1, 2013 5:45 PM