Keeping Cowtown runners safe

By Alex Branch

The UNT Health Science Center medical team at the Cowtown Marathon will use a new digital tool to keep runners healthy and safe this weekend.

Volunteers will use RaceSafe, an app that streamlines information sharing between runners and medical volunteers, when more than 26,000 people race, said Darrin D’Agostino, DO, Cowtown Medical Director and UNT Health Science Center Associate Dean.

The software allows runners to input their health histories and medical workers to immediately access that information during a race by entering the runner’s bib number.

“If I encounter a runner needing assistance I could punch in their bib number and immediately see that they are asthmatic, for example,” Dr. D’Agostino said. “I have immediate access to a medical history.”

The app also stores emergency contact information for each runner. About 8,000 children are expected to race this weekend and the program gives medical volunteers quick access to information about contacting parents and guardians.

The program complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All health information is encrypted and secure.

Medical workers tested the app during the 2016 race, Dr. D’Agostino said. It captured data about medical cases that volunteers handled, which helped Dr. D’Agostino plan for what medical problems to expect this year.

In 2016, volume depletion — the loss of body fluid and salt that occurs during perspiration — accounted for about 35 percent of medical problems recorded. With the National Weather Service forecasting a high temperature around 70 degrees Sunday, Dr. D’Agostino said he ordered extra IV solutions bags in case he needs to help more runners recover from fluids and salt loss quickly.

Other changes runners may notice this year are new exam tables in the medical tent and 24 medical stations along the race route.

The Cowtown Marathon weekend of six distance races will celebrate its 40th year in 2018. The event involves 4,300 volunteers annually and attracts some 28,000 runners from across Texas, the U.S. and internationally.

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