On March 24 some 24,000 runners will depart Dodger Stadium for Santa Monica and the finish line of the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon. Amid the fray will be Dr. Carl Chudnofsky, an emergency physician for USC’s Keck School of Medicine.
Chudnofsky won’t be there to run but to serve as medical director overseeing a vast network of physicians, nurses and physical therapy students who’ve volunteered their time to assist marathoners in need of attention and assistance.
For some racers, the 26.2-mile journey will be fraught with ailments ranging from dehydration and muscle cramps to fatigue and blisters caused by shoes not fully broken in.
To assist sufferers on race day, organizers from Los Angeles-based Conqur Endurance Group have been working with Chudnofsky and Keck Medicine for months to prepare and supply 13 medical stations, to be manned by 300 medical volunteers.
Equipment and supplies are being donated by Keck Medicine, while two emergency response vehicles provided by Los Angeles County will also be on hand on race day, each outfitted with medical stations that can hold and treat patients with advanced issues.
“It’s basically a rolling emergency department with 12 inside stations with equipment and supplies,” the emergency physician said. “When people are really sick, it’s much easier to treat them in the truck than it is in the tents.”
Although directing medical care for the L.A. Marathon is an enormous responsibility, Chudnofsky is more than qualified. A Pasadena resident and emergency medicine physician for three decades, he serves as chair and professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine for Keck’s emergency facilities, including USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.
He sits on the board of directors for the American Board of Emergency Medicine and has even got a little foot racing experience under his belt. In January, he served as medical director for the 2019 Pasadena Half Marathon, held at the Rose Bowl.
“It was fun,” recalled Chudnofsky, who cared for road weary marathoners near the finish line. “We probably took care of 300 to 400 runners who had a variety of issues, from scrapes and bruises to chest pain and muscle cramps.”
The physician offers advice to anyone running in, or preparing for, a marathon-sized race: Stay hydrated up until race time and take advantage of water stations along the way, he said, and be sure all clothing and footwear have been well broken in ahead of time.
While managing the volume of runners who will surely come their way seems daunting, Chudnofsky said his team of volunteers is eager to assist. It’s a sentiment he shares.
“I love seeing everything come together,” Chudnofsky said. “[Runners] come in feeling lousy and sick, and practically all of them walk out feeling pretty good — that’s a good feeling.”