News: Wounded bretheren the elements
Story by Pfc. Brendan Roethel
Service members from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort are rolling through the country to support Team Walter Reed Bethesda, as the team competes in the worlds most challenging bicycle race, The Race Across America, June 15.
The transcontinental race started at the Oceanside Pier and led the racers through the desert, into the Rocky Mountains, reaching elevation of 10,856 feet on Wolf Creek Pass, Colo. The riders will then cross the Great Plains, the Mississippi River and the hills of the Midwest, before conquering the humidity and steep climbs of the Appalachian Mountains. After conquering all of these territories they will begin their last leg of the journey toward the finish line in Annapolis, Md.
The racers will face varying elements in their journey, from high heat and humidity, the cold air in the Rocky Mountains, storms, the dryness of the desert and possibly extreme weather conditions such as tornadoes as they pass through the Midwest. All of these varying conditions these racers are confronted with, and the drastic changes made to their bodies due to the elements, make them susceptible to illnesses and injuries. That is why Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarvis Broom, a hospital corpsman for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 224 aboard MCAS Beaufort, is on the trip to ensure the team of wounded warriors is healthy and cared for if they are injured or sick, so they continue on with the race.
"My mission on this trip is to make sure that all of the racers and crew members are healthy and physically well enough to keep going," said Broom. "There are too many probable ways for people to get hurt or sick like if it rains they can fall, if it’s windy, things can get projected at them and if its too hot, they run the risk of getting heat injuries. The racers are also all combat wounded service members and continue to work on their rehabilitation to this day making it pertinent to make sure they do not exceed their limits risking re-injury."
With all of these things in mind, it is important that every member of the team and crew look out for one another. Each crew member observes the racers before, during and after they ride, all while the crew members keep an eye on one another. They also observe weather conditions and make sure the riders don't compromise their safety for their goal of cycling across the country.
"Last year several cyclists began feeling fatigued, walking slowly and acting abnormally," said Connor Barrows, the bicycle mechanic for Team Walter Reed Bethesda. "I thought they were just tired after riding a few hundred miles, but I spoke with medical personnel about what I observed and learned that they all had the flu. They were treated and back on the road in 24 hours all because I noticed just the lightest changes in their behavior."
If the racers are injured, sick or are confronted by detrimental weather conditions, guidelines are put into place to ensure the safety of all riders and their crew members. The event holders and all of the members of Team Walter Reed Bethesda believe the safety and well being of all cyclists and crew members is paramount.