This blog is about my experience as a volunteer on the medical team at the 2015 Toronto Pan Am games. And I realize it is far past due but I still thought it was worth sharing my experience.
The process started early in 2014 applying for the position. Once this opportunity was made public I knew I wanted to be a part of it. So I made it through the application and online video interview (*so weird). Then came the waiting game to see when I would be working and more importantly at what events.
There was a lot of online and in person training that needed to be completed before the games began.
Finally I found out I was placed at Ontario Place West (OPW) venue. This was exciting because this was the venue for the marathon and other endurance events such as triathlon and race walk! I ended up working 64hrs over 2 weeks and working at The Runner’s Academy whenever I could fit it in. It was tiring but I would not change it for the world!
It was such a great opportunity to be a part of the medical team. It is definitely different from my day to day at work. I was field of play for a few different sports. Including women’s marathon, women’s triathlon, men’s 50k race walk, training day for water skiing & wake boarding, handball and racquetball. This means that if anything happened to one of the athletes in front of me it was my responsibility to be the first responder. Luckily I did not personally have to use my first responder skills but I was ready if needed.
I did not end up treating many athletes. But one of the other great opportunities was to meet other medical professionals. The type of people you meet in this type of a setting are truly remarkable. They are willing to leave their paying jobs and come and volunteer for the betterment of the games and athletes.
A few interesting things that happened during the games were learning how to extract an injured athlete out of the water on the wake boarding training day. Comparing notes and discussing other medical professionals roles in the health field and approaches to treating. I had never witnessed handball but it may be the most intense sport I have ever seen! It says it is non contact but from my point of view (front row with the medical team) it was very much contact. Seeing the true determination of the athletes in the women’s marathon and men’s 50k race walk was truly inspiring. The conditions were less then ideal but all the athletes fought hard and I was happy to be on the side lines!
It was also really interesting to see the other side of the games. It is incredible the amount of planning and organization that must go into planning an event like this.
I am so happy to have had this opportunity. I hope everyone else was able to enjoy the Pan Am games in some way. And a huge congrats to everyone who was on the organizational side, it was fantastic!!! And I was so proud to be a Canadian and Torontonian!!!