Commonwealth Games 2014

photo (2) Day 1, Shift 1 CG2014 The six hour drive from High Wycombe to Glasgow was long but not as long as I expected. Filling the car with fuel it registered 357 mile range but TomTom quoted 388. Hmm! Do I risk it? Go on punk make my day. Safely arriving some six hours later the fuel gauge was drained but it still read 3 miles in the tank. Bless you Henry Ford for creating a masterpiece. Today I needed to familiarise myself with the area, meet the local populate and tune in to the unusual dialect. Very challenging. By chance the Queen’s Baton Relay was passing through the High Street at Milngavie so I chose to stop and video the poor lad who had been chosen to represent the Town. Later, bedecked in my CG2014 uniform I set off for the Ravenscraig Sports Centre in Greenock for my first shift. I introduced myself to the Receptionist who smiled politely before saying “not another one, we’ve had several like you, you need to be in Motherwell”. A hasty drive, at times just a tad above the national speed limit and some 40 minutes later I arrive at the correct venue …… Ravenscraig Regional Sports Centre, Motherwell. So, day 1. A briefing and hand over by the morning shift who advised that apart from putting a plaster on some one there was nothing to report. A tour of the stadium (impressive) before setting up in Gymnasts training arena. The Australian men were already training and they have their own Physio in-situ so nothing to be done. The Isle of Man team were next to arrive any soon approached the Physio Team to say hello. Good banter was had and they honestly believed that ‘we’ were ex Gymnasts turned Physios!! It’s amazing what loose clothing can hide. Whilst watching these athletes a call went out for attendance as someone had dislocated a knee cap. A quick march to the Weight Lifters ….. nothing. On to the Judo Teams ….. nothing. Wrestlers …. nothing. What was, as I was beginning to suspect, a wind up turned out to be a local footballer playing on the Astro-Turf outside who had sustained a dislocated patella. Paramedics at the scene but I couldn’t believe that they were going to roll the ‘injured’ leg to the good leg before splinting it. Surely everyone knows that you do not move the injured leg. Problem solved by two Sports Physios in attendance. The day has been long and uneventful in terms of elite athletes but there are things to be learned. First; double check your paperwork (which I did) and I was right to go to Greenock. Second; when it comes to ‘lunch provided’ do not expect more than a sandwich and cup cake and third; it’s nothing like a game of football where you watch the action anticipating the injury …. gymnasts will not admit to any injury …. they are tough. Day 2, Shift 2 at the CG2014 A much better and more organised day although I decided to arrive more than two and a half hours early for my shift. A lengthy hand over with the morning shift and they report that they had been asked to treat a gymnast. Now it’s not ethical to name names or countries so that is information that cannot be divulged in any of

the blogs but the morning crew were delighted to be doing what they were trained to do. As my shift started my team, of two, arrived promptly and we settled down to watch and wait. Unfortunately no Doctor had arrived so the courier was sent to the Medi-Village to find one. Apparently the Team Doctor allocated to my shifts had failed to arrive at the Games and was not answering his phone. domain name generator . Hmm! Perhaps he

too had gone to Greenock [see Shift 1]. A stand in Doc duly arrived

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and it turns out that he is a ‘field of play, rugby, doctor of medicine’ and with so little to do, other than watch and wait, he suggested that we did a role play with the management of a spinal injury. Armed with a collar, oral and nasal intubators he set about describing, and involving us, in how to support, position and handle a casualty. The two Paramedics assigned to our shift looked a little disgruntled as it is their remit to do exactly what the Doc was asking three physiotherapists to do. As the day went on many of the same gymnasts from yesterday attended for training. The quality has improved already so by the time the competition starts for real we may have already seen a strong medal contender. By arriving two and a half hours early it made my shift a long day; close to 10 hours and the nutritional lunch provided of a tuna sandwich, a doughnut and a bottle of water did nothing to stave off hunger pangs. One of the best things

to come out of Scotland is shortbread and packets of these are provided for the competitors and officials no doubt as a sugar fix. I have to confess to eating two packets (don’t be alarmed there are only two biscuits per packet) but was totally gobsmacked to hear that 2500 boxes, not packets, had disappeared since the venue opened. Perhaps someone needs to trawl the various car boot sales to see if they are being sold on the cheap. On the subject of selling things off …. Our Games uniform came with a very ‘unfetching’ hat. Not a baseball cap but a flimsy hat. Well, these are starting to appear on Ebay and fetching £35 As a volunteer my involvement at the Games will have cost me a considerable amount of money in expenses and lost income so if a hat can fetch £35, what price a full uniform? OK, that’s it for my second shift. Nothing to report, everyone trained safely.   Tomorrow is a rest day for me but I’m off to Kelvingrove to see the bowls team. I have a vested interest as one of the medal hopefuls is a private patient of mine and I want to wish him luck. Back on shift for Tuesday and no doubt by then there will be interesting things to Blog Day 3 CG2014 An early start meant that I could stretch my legs and I went for a 5.5 mile run. I say run but these days the term jogging is more correct. Although technically a free day I had arranged to visit another venue today and chose Kelvingrove purely because I knew one of the national competitors and had arranged to meet him in advance. From my accommodation it is a short train journey so taking advantage of the free transportation network I hopped on a train and relaxed. The first surprise of the day was the cleanliness of the train followed by the punctuality but what was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the journey was the politeness of the staff. When you compare British Rail to Scottish Rail ….. well, there is no comparison so a huge thumbs up to Scottish Rail. Anyway, I arrived at Kelvingrove to be greeted by what can only be described as Fort Knox. Working in

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a training venue did not allow me to cross the threshold of a competition venue. Simply, I did not have the correct colour flash on my pass. A text message to my competitor friend appeared to sort this but I had to be accompanied by a ‘blue flash holder’ at all times. The security issue is a real ‘jobs worth’. I did get to meet my competitor friend and I duly wished him well. The agreement is that he will let me have one of his country shirts and a picture with his medal after the competition. Whilst waiting to see my competitor friend I chose to sit and ‘people watch’ outside of the venue. What a shock. Whilst I complain about being a stone [14 pounds] overweight I am a veritable skeleton compared to a high proportion of the Scottish population. OMG So much for my day off. A 5.5 mile run, a train journey, a confrontation with security staff from hell, learnt how to bypass the pass system and then culminating in a BBQ provided by my host family. The next four days are early shifts so my blog will be posted earlier but I hope that you enjoy the insider report from the Commonwealth Games 2014 Day 4, Shift 3, CG2014 When the alarm went off at 6.15 and I had to prepare for an 8am start

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I was in shock. Perhaps the combination of protein and alcohol courtesy of my hosts the previous evening was too much of a shock. However, I had to stay focussed so a cool shower followed by tea and toast meant that by 7am I was on the road. Hold on ….. where’s my phone? Back to the room and there it was on the dresser waiting for me. It really is difficult to imagine a life without a mobile phone. Arriving at Ravenscraig by 7.45 I was the first medical person on site. A quick read of the incident book and there had been seven treatments given by yesterday’s afternoon shift. Thankfully nothing serious. A check of the medical supplies and some bright spark had decided to decamp the contents of two tables into individual lockers. I couldn’t find everything as there was no sequence

to the storage. Call me OCD if you wish but there needs to be a semblance of order. Within 10 minutes of the doors opening the teams started arriving; the Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, IoM, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and a lone Cypriot. At last there was an atmosphere. During the course of the day, which I chose to extend by 2 hours, there were no serious injuries and the majority of treatments were protective or kinesiology strappings. Bread and butter to sports trained physiotherapists. It is fascinating to see just how many of the gymnasts arrive wearing kinesio tape when there is no substantial evidence to support its benefit [Kamper S & Henschke N, Br J Sports Med, 2013] One amusing event today involved the Duty Doctor. Not once but twice he fell fast asleep propped up by my able bodied physiotherapists Gemma and James. The poor man, he looked so restful. Another day done and we closed with the figures of ten treatments given. Hardly a production line but so much better than the previous shifts so things could be looking up. Whatever the day brings the events will be written. Until then ….. Day 5, Shift 4, CG2014 Another early start but the traffic appeared calmer on the 22 mile journey to Motherwell. Arriving ahead of my team, Emma and James, I prepared the two treatment rooms ready for the shift but was unable to find the medical bag or ice box from the previous day. No matter where I looked it could not be found. Petty theft is rife in venues like this and the souvenir hunters are everywhere. In this present day and age if you can find anything with provenance then it can be sold somewhere. For example; there are two flags being displayed at the training venue; the Scottish Saltire and the CG official flag. On day one there were three of each displayed at the viewing gallery but today there are only two of the Saltires remaining. Based on this I half expected to hear that the medical bag and ice box had also been pilfered. Two trips to Reception and they had not had anything handed in. By the time Emma and James arrived there was a full search underway. After all, you can’t offer a medical service with no equipment. A text was promptly sent to the Medical Coordinator who offered to intervene. Remarkably, the next time that someone asked the Reception if anything had been handed in the two items appeared. I smell a rat!! Back to the shift and things are beginning to get busy. The Opening Ceremony is this evening and for those that can afford £250 a ticket, and get them, the athletes have to pay lip service to those few and all training has to end at 3pm. This, much to the annoyance of many of the athletes who want to continue with last minute preparations. Our shift is an eventful one and 11 were treated for strappings, mobilisations, advice and TLC. In the Gym are the competitiveness is hotting up and you can see the medal contending nations eyeing up their competitors and almost doing a ‘jump off’ to show who’s best. In our eyes they are all amazing and worthy of a medal. There is a friendliness at the Games that I have never experienced before. The athletes of each country are provided with small pin badges and the idea being that you exchange one with a fellow competitor and make a friend. Not all of the athletes subscribe to this and give their pin badges to the staff that look after them. A certain Doctor has created an unofficial rule in the medical room and that is “one treatment, one badge”. James and Emma are vieing to collect the most badges before they finish their role at the Games but still have a fair way to go to catch yours truly. With only three more shifts to go we are all competing for the England, Australia and Canada badges so it will make the next few days interesting. Tonight’s opening ceremony ends at Midnight so for those athletes who will attend training tomorrow morning there are sure to be some tired eyes and jaded faces amongst them. Day 6, Shift

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5, CG2014. Another early start but this time not feeling as jaded as previous mornings and I arrived 30 minutes earlier that the agreed shift. A cursory walk around the medical and treatment rooms confirmed that everything was in order and nothing missing. Could this be due to the fact there was no afternoon shift that followed us yesterday? Hmm! Makes you wonder. My team of Emma and James soon arrived and the talk was of the Opening Ceremony yesterday evening. The agreement was that it was well staged but too many empty seats were visible. The next member of the team to arrive was the Doctor, affectionately renamed Herr Flick after a well know character in a TV show called ‘Allo ‘Allo. Unfortunately for her, and for us, she had a very brusque and Germanic way about her that ruffled feathers. Even the two paramedics found her irksome. The competition to collect athlete team badges is hotting up and poor Emma is lagging behind …. probably because she is too polite to negotiate the ‘one treatment, one pin’ plan. With 20 badges yours truly is in the lead but there are still two shifts to go. The promise of badges from yesterday, Cyprus and Sri Lanka, came good but there was no sign of the Australian badge. Although each team was issued with a quantity to pass to other people as a way of making friends there are some countries who do not want to play ball. Tomorrows promises from India, Nigeria and Trinidad have been logged and we will expect them to be honoured. Treatments today were again quite minor and the research into gymnasts is proving right in so much that they will train and compete with an injury opting to use us for preventative maintenance rather than medical support. So, two shifts remain; another early one tomorrow followed by a day off with the final shift being on Sunday afternoon. Highlight of my day was a team photo with Team Wales ….. going back to my roots. Day 7, Shift 6, CG2014 The penultimate shift at Ravenscraig and still enjoying it. Again waking early and arriving at least a half hour before shift was due to start, allowed the opportunity of walking around the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Centre. For those of you who don’t know, Ravenscraig was once a thriving steel works and the closure meant the loss of thousands of jobs. Phoenix like and rising from the ashes the sports complex has grown on the brown field site and continues to grow with the promise of an Olympic sized swimming pool and other facilities. Jobs have been created and judging by the number of new houses being built the economy is doing well. So, todays shift. No missing items, nothing re-arranged in the treatment room and all appears as it should be. However something is wrong. The ‘dream team’ has been fragmented as the delightful Gemma has been declared unwell and not able to make this her final shift. It is hardly surprising as the oppressive atmosphere in the sports hall and the copious amounts of chalk dust that permeates the air cannot be healthy. I wish her well and thank her for her valuable input this week. There is no air-con and the unusually high temperatures (today reached an amazing 30 degrees) make working hard. The gymnasts: You can tell that competition day is only 3 days away and the standard of training has upped a level. Functional movement patterns have been turned into routines, there are less falls, less poor landings …. Things are looking good and within the section we have observed this week there will be podium finishers. In terms of treatment it is now purely remedial and of reassurance; the correct strapping, the correct kinesio-taping. Today’s competition for badges was a disaster. Having taken people at their word “yes, I will bring it tomorrow” it was a case of maῆana as tomorrow never comes. Perhaps the response to any request for ice should also be maῆana!! Tomorrow is a rest day and the chance to spend a day with my loved one who arrives later tonight but my final shift on Sunday should be an interesting one. Day 8 at CG2014 and officially a rest day. Throughout my week here in Glasgow I’ve heard stories from other volunteers as to just how friendly the City and its people are so we, Frankie & I, decided to hop on a train and head to the centre. Again the rail service has to be commended for its punctuality, cleanliness and clarity of information. Exiting Queen Street end entering Buchanan Street we were greeted by what can be best described as a carnival atmosphere. The myriad of colours provided by bunting, flags and people excite the eyes. Saint Lucia The openness of the people when they see someone sporting a Games Volunteer uniform and pass has to be praised. The people of Glasgow, and Scotland, want to know your story. How long are you up for, what are you doing, do you get to see any games they all ask. Scotland can be proud of the Games and to achieve what they have done on a fraction of the Olympic Games budget [I hear tales of it only costing 20% of what London cost]. We’re sure that a legacy will be left after the Games. People will want to re-visit and see other corners of this country. Prior to my spell at the Games I had literally only ever spent a weekend in Glasgow or Dalkieth or a very fast drive from Stranraer to England to ‘escape’ but in the future a holiday will be booked, a tour of the islands made, cultural visits and so much more because Scotland has it all. Tomorrow, Sunday, is my final day working with some of the best gymnasts, male and female, not only from the Commonwealth but also the world. I will be sad to leave but their competition begins on Monday and I wish them all success. Not all of them will win but in my eyes they are all winners. Day 9, Shift 7, CG2014 The final shift for me was the eve of the athlete’s competition and there was no

atmosphere at all in the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Centre. Only a handful of gymnasts attended in the morning and chose to stretch out on the floor and did not use any of the apparatus. There was an eerie silence and I can only liken it to a condemned man contemplating his fate before he meets his destiny. As I walked around the building checking the medical facilities before handing over to a following shift I can report that all is in order; nothing missing or misplaced so the instructions were now to box up anything that was unused as these items could be used elsewhere. Rumour has it that anything ‘unused’ will be auctioned off after the Games end on 3 August. The temptation is to auction my uniform but it just may find its way to the bottom of a drawer and sit alongside my various items of football memorabilia from days gone by. Between the hours of 2pm and 7pm not a single gymnast, weightlifter or wrestler attended and the final hours were spent reliving the highlights of our time in Scotland. For me, I can highlight the time spent working with my team of Gemma

and James and I really hope that they go on to achieve much in their careers. Of how Team Wales wanted a photo when they heard that I was marrying a Welsh lady next year and returning to my roots and how the England/Strictly gymnast, Louis Smith who took a photo of the two of us after being introduced at Glasgow Airport at midnight the previous evening. (There are two

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versions of the event but having been tipped off by Frankie that he was on the flight I was determined to let him know what and why I had been in Glasgow for). I have to say that of the many sports people I have met over the years he has to be the most approachable and naturally down to earth. Of how humbled I was to see a double amputee ‘spotting’ for a fellow amputee weight lifter. So, the Games for me are over and a 400 mile drive back to reality begins in the morning. If I were to reflect upon my experience of the Games, of Glasgow and of the people and were to be asked if it was worth the loss of income, the expenses of attending meaningless training sessions etc then I would say resoundingly YES. Commonwealth Games 2014 has been a most amazing experience and there is already talk of being part of Rio 2016  

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