THE OPEN

Published: July 6, 2016
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One of the things I like to do is play golf.  I am not a fanatic about it, but I try to get out once or twice a week.  I find a round of golf to be both a test of skill with some physical activity out of doors, as well as a social event which allows me to talk with people I don’t always see on a regular basis.  Now I said I was not a fanatic, but I did join the United States Golf Association and am a current card carrying member.

            Around the first of the year I got an email from the USGA asking if I wished to volunteer to be part of the medical team that manned the first aid stations at the US Open.  I generally am not a volunteer but this seemed like a special opportunity.  With my volunteer credentials I could attend the open on any day, even if I was not volunteering. I got a neat hat and special T-shirt that informed every one that I was a medical volunteer.  I was required to work two shifts but could attend the rest of the tournament for free.  I sent in my name and was surprised to find that I was selected.  I went to the meeting held in Pittsburgh to get all the information about my duties and my schedule.  I was scheduled to work two Saturdays one of which was the final Saturday of the tournament, which was expected to be a busy time.

On the final Saturday of the tournament I found myself in an aid station about as far away from the entrance as you could get.  Fortunately, I was taken out to the station by a golf cart.  I was not alone, but had one other physician and two emergency technicians with me.  The day was hot and steamy.  It had rained the day before and the ground was still slightly damp and muddy.  Here is where it got interesting and annoying.

The most common diagnosis that I made all day was the diagnosis of stupidity. As I said my location was about as far from the entrance as you could go.  The grounds at Oakmont, where the tournament was held, is very hilly and was difficult to walk in the conditions of the day.  Why some people, who have not walked more than 50 feet in the last few years, decided that this hot, sunny and steamy day was a good time to put their walking skills to the test I’ll never know.  Heat exhaustion brought in about half a dozen people who clearly were in no shape to be walking, especially after a few beers and no water.  The problem for them at this point, other than having failed their golf course stress test, was how to get back to the entrance.  Transportation was not available except for the critically ill (of which there was only one).  After some hydration and rest in our air conditioned tent they were sent on their way. I saw no news reports about their demise the next day.

The second most common malady can best be described as poor fashion judgement.  There were more than a dozen women, mostly young, who needed band aids.  Why band aids?  Well, as I said the golf course was rather hilly and slippery in places because of the previous rain.  The most appropriate foot wear would have been sneakers, not sandals or, in some cases, high heeled shoes.  Blisters on the feet were the result of a poor fashion choice and they paid the the price.  I could spot them as they entered the tent and simply preempted their complaint by asking “band aids?” pointing to a box we kept on the front table.

Last on the list was the need for sunblock lotion which we dispensed by the handfuls throughout the day.  We could have used a dispenser instead of the small squeeze bottles.

All in all, it was an interesting experience and I would do it again.

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