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For the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, a critical moment for the Games Medical Services team due to the high number of spectators, athletes, authorities and work force at the same time and place, 66 professionals were assigned for the operation in the Olympic Stadium. A total of 20 first aid doubles, ten nurses and ten doctors were assigned, in addition to six senior doctors. The latter were called Top 6, a group for the service and decision-making highest level. One of the Top 6 members was Antônio Bispo, Medical Services manager of the Rio 2016™ Olympic Games Organising Committee.
Fortunately, the only significant event did not take place in the ambulatories. The tribute to the National Health System (NHS) during the opening was showcased to the world as one of Great Britain’s main symbols and a national pride, moved everyone in the stadium or on TV, especially the health professionals.
Bispo (third form left to right) and other three doctors from Top 6 at the Opening Ceremony (Photo: Rio 2016™)
As the world’s largest and one of the best, the public system serves all Great Britain residents, or more than 62 million people, according to official data. The NHS employs about 1.7 million people, and serves approximately three million per week on average.
All services are financed by taxes and are available to users at no cost – with small exceptions - according to the ideal of a quality health service available to all, regardless of their possessions. Accordingly, those who are visiting London to watch or to work in the Olympic Games are provided with the same level of service.
“We benefit from an intense learning experience and acquire several tools for planning and operation of Rio. The services to be delivered are quite similar, despite the local peculiarities of each host city. However, the city’s previous infrastructure is very different”, affirms Bispo; as an observer, he attended several meetings held by the authorities responsible for the medical area in London Games.
The Brazilian manager and his counterpart in the London Games, Pam Venning (Photo: Rio 2016™)
Three thousand volunteers in the medical area
The planning of London 2012 Medical Services area commenced immediately after the city was selected to stage the Games. The critical points faced during the seven-year period were the recruitment of health volunteers (doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists and first aid professionals) and the adjustment to Great Britain’s legislation for qualification of international doctors.
The area received 6,000 volunteer registrations. It selected 4,500 and will use 3,000. According to the legislation, volunteers cannot work full-time and double shifts. In the Games operation, first aid is provided by the so-called First Aiders, or emergency units professionals, and then by doctors and nurses. There are ten groups of reference hospitals: one for each “client” (athletes, Olympic and Paralympic family, press and broadcast) in London, one for Sailing in Weymouth and a second one for Canoe and Rowing in Eton Dorney, in addition to each of the five football cities.
The most complex system is located at the Olympic Village Policlinic, provided with additional doctors (general practitioners), sport doctors, ophthalmologist, radiologist and doctors of different specialties for pre-scheduled service: cardiologist, dermatologist, gastroenterologist, neurologist, gynecologist/obstetrician, orthopedist, psychiatrist and “emergency professionals”, in addition to dentists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, chiropractors and massage therapists. The Policlinic operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, during the Games. The service stations in the training and competition venues operate according to their functioning.
Unity of medical assistance in one of the competition venus in London 2012 (Photo: Rio 2016™)
“There are 66 new ambulances purchased in the occasion of the Games, to meet the specific requisites of the International Federations and International Olympic Committee, which will be left as a legacy. They were combined with the whole structure of the London Ambulance Service (LAS), whose top service standard guarantees an average lead time of four minutes”, informs the manager of Rio 2016™.
In the first days of the Games, the London medical team keeps working with tranquility. For the Brazilian general surgeon who will lead the medical services planning and operation in four years, learning and teaching are daily practices. The experience will last more than a month during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the British capital. Top 6 in the world’s biggest sport event, the challenge is posed to him, Rio and Brazil. Health for All is a possible dream. And a dream come true.