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MedWars 2021 Recap

Tents…canoes…tourniquets and field chest tubes after the apocalypse?? It can only be MedWars!

Mercy St. Vincent hosted the Midwest medical wilderness adventure race this past weekend at the Pickney Recreation area after a one-year hiatus secondary to COVID. Teams from multiple states and all levels of training (MS-1 through PGY-3) competed in a roughly 16-mile course studded with medical scenarios that could only be completed with the gear carried on their backs. Dr. Keel and Dr. Newmyer reflect on the weekend.

Dr. Newmyer: This was my first MedWars – oral boards got in the way of my first year, and COVID cancelled last year. Although smaller than in previous years (10 teams instead of the usual 35), it seemed like all the usual atmosphere was still present. Teams started with clues pointing them to a splinting station – that they had to fashion themselves – and then canoe across the lake to the next station without getting wet. They had to treat blast injuries under fire from roving marauders and avoid hordes of rubber snakes. Teams were especially challenged when the rain started about halfway through the day. I helped with the multi-injury blast scenario, trying to keep bottlenecks from forming at the airway trainer that needed intubated when 6 teams arrived within 5 minutes of each other. I think we scared a few “civilians” at the park when we called for a “medic” to the incoming canoe paddlers, and dragged out an inflatable mannequin with an amputated leg, dripping in fake blood (we did try to warn those who came through as we were setting up). After several attempts, we gently guided the MS-1 and MS-2’s to use the correct hand when intubating, and making them identify landmarks in the airway – their time penalty was having to attempt intubation multiple times, going to the back of the ever-growing line after each failed attempt. The resident teams did better, but still struggled with the adrenaline rush of running up the hill avoiding our marauders (our fantastic medical student volunteers with toy guns, but the ability to make the teams run the entire station without using a limb if they didn’t check for scene safety before each move).

None of this could have been possible without the leadership of Dr. Keel and our resident leaders, as well as our horde of medical student volunteers.

Dr. Keel: This was my first year as MedWARs director. Dr. Ledrick, the OG host and creator of the MedWAR races, decided it was time to take a step back and he passed the torch to me. Well not just the torch, also boxes and boxes of supplies, ogre feet, bodies, slingshots, and so much more. There is so much planning and preparation involved before you can just have participants bit by that pesky snake or stage a mass casualty plane crash scenario. Not only do you have to figure out things like how to pack as many babies into one box as possible, but you also have to contemplate what you will use to make their butts look like they are covered in poo. So many hard questions! I would be lying if I said there were not some aspects I stumbled through such as paperwork and what had to be done when. However, in the end it all came together. On the day of the race, there was not much left for me to do other than to hold down the fort. Literally, I made myself a little fort/cave at the start finish line and answered questions, directed volunteers, and sent out extraction teams for those who were not going to make it to the finish line in time. My favorite part of the race came at the very end. As the teams arrived, it was clear that they all had a new bond forged by their adventures in radiation exposure, broken limbs, altitude sickness, acquired infants, and all the challenges that were thrown their way. The laughter and stories that were being told as we shared a great dinner were amazing. This comradery continued as we packed up and we moved to the campsites where our student volunteers spent the night around the fire talking about extremely random topics. Dr. Newmyer, Dr. Syverson, and I were particularly intrigued by a story of a tire named Robert ( Such a little tire with such big dreams. Although the weekend had to come to an end, I think it was truly a memorable time for all those involved. There are still bodies hanging in my garage and tents drying in the yard, but I am already ready to start planning for next year!


Resident Director – Tyler Johnston

Food & Banquet Coordinator – Assumpta Nwaneri

Scenario/Station Creators:

· Krista Allen

· Quinci Copeland

· Geoff Garst

· Megan Ladd

· Christian Posadny

· Ashley Russell

Adult Supervision (Aka Attendings and Family)

· Dr. David Ledrick

· Dr. Angeline Owens

· Konnor Owens (Who didn’t bring Roman...)

· Dr. Matthew Syverson

· Molly Worthington-Hottenstein

· Dr. Richard Worthington (He made the really awesome artwork!)

And tons of medical students who were key in making the day run!


Courtney Keel, MD, MedWars Director

Aileen Newmyer, MD, MedWars Faculty


Alex Dzurik, MD

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