Yesterday I work medical at the mid-point Michigan Bluff aid station at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. We had a team of about 12 people: doctors, RNs, LVNs, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, and paramedic. What happens when I work medical is that I spend my whole time working on feet. Of course, that’s what is expected of me. If there was a major medical that stretched the “pure’ medical folks, I would step over to that side of the aid station. So, what happened?
Runners kept us busy the whole day – from about 3:00 pm until we closed at 9:00 pm. We did not keep count. I had a good time because of Tonya, a physical therapist, who wanted to learn foot care. She was a quick learner.
In short, the day can be summed up with three words: maceration and toes. The snow in the high country had created a wet day for runner’s feet. Snowmelt ran down the trail and made for slushy conditions. Runners’ footwear ranged from regular trail shoes to lightweight minimalist shoes like the New Balance MT100s and Inov-8 models. I didn’t see anyone running in Five Fingers. Virtually everyone had wet shoes. And that, of course, led to macerated feet.
I set up with a pop-up and tarp and two reclining chaise lounge chairs. Tonya and I often worked side by side. She watched me for the first batch of runners and then, after a while, she took on feet alone. Her skills were good. Importantly, she asked questions.
How should blisters be lanced and when and why? What’s the best way to tape toes? How about heels? How about between toes? Wow, what’s that? What can we do for those toenails? How can you drain fluid from under a toenail? How can we modify footwear? What are the best supplies? What tools do you use?
Over the coming weeks I will address these questions.