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Medical Volunteers Help Riders Beaten by Texas Heat

From sag wagons picking up exhausted riders along the usually hot and windy challenge to the more than 800 physicians, nurses and other medical volunteers, few rides can equal the experienced medical care given to riders of the annual Hotter'N Hell Hundred.

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For years, names like Dr. Keith Williamson, the ride's medical director, United Regional nurses like Cheryl Popejoy and Ellen Cannon and countless others have joined a host of medical caregivers to make this race and ride of thousands as safe and as pleasing a memory as possible.

"This is an event that every physician and nurse should experience during their careers," Williamson said. "It is an involvement both personally rewarding and beneficial to any medical career over a lifetime. You meet all kinds of people and many kinds of injuries and the best experience of all is seeing appreciation in a rider's eyes."

Although United Regional Health Care System plays a lead role in managing the ride's 17 rest stops along the way, Williamson said the medical team for the HHH annually consists of professional volunteers from throughout the city and area, extending into the Dallas-Fort Worth region. It takes many experienced hands to manage small and large traumas among 12,000 or more participants each year.

United Regional provides all the supplies for the main medical tent and 17 rest stops. The hospital also has a van ready to take a rider directly to United Regional's emergency room or the radiology unit for an X-ray, if necessary.

Both Popejoy and Cannon have often said that riders sometimes have a hard time understanding their limits, especially during times of extended periods of heat and wind.

"These riders come here to compete against themselves," Popejoy once said. "They set a goal and try to achieve it. Our message to them is to know when enough is enough. You have to know when to stop. There is no shame in coming up short of a goal. There is always next year."

"We are blessed with a strong medical team that allows for a great deal of freedom in the field," Williamson said. "From the outset, the message we send to riders is to monitor their bodies. Physical awareness on the part of the rider is a huge factor in the (ride) experience.

"Most riders go off early in the morning when it is cool and the breeze is to their backs. They are sometimes lulled into thinking, 'This is going to be easy. I've got it made.' However, as the day wears on the temperature rises and the wind turns against them, the inexperienced rider can begin to cramp and feel the effects of the heat and wind a long way from their personal goal. We try to keep them from learning the hard way."

In addition to URHCS, dedicated support comes from Kell West Hospital, Midwestern State University, HealthSouth, Electra Memorial Hospital, North Texas Home Health, Sheppard Air Force Base, Clinics of North Texas, Red River Hospital, Texhoma Christian Care, Texas Nurses Association, Hospice of Wichita Falls, Care Partners, Air Evac lifeteam Helicopter Ambulance Service, Trans Star Ambulance, Lions Club, Texas Medical Rangers, Clay County Memorial Hospital, Texoma Cancer Center and Beyond Faith Homecare.


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