The coronavirus outbreak has led to international and local sports events being cancelled across the globe. The International Olympic Committee postponed the 2020 Olympic Games due to be held in Tokyo this summer. A disappointment, but an understandable decision for athletes and sports aficionados alike. Fortunately, the Dutch Olympic committee was able to find a new purpose for some of its unused high-tech kit.
Medical staff wearing layers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in intensive care can get incredibly hot. When the Dutch Olympic committee NOC*NSF was asked to step in to help, it had just the right thing. To keep athletes cool during the Tokyo Olympics, a consortium of 4 Dutch universities had developed special vests for the NOC-NSF under the name Thermo Tokyo - Beat the Heat.
The vests are designed to minimalise the effect on performance of high humidity and temperatures over 30°C. As the 2020 Olympics will not take place this summer, the clothing was no longer being used, so the NOC-NSF provided hundreds of cool vests to six hospitals.
The consortium also provided hospitals with existing factsheets on how to keep cool in hot and humid conditions. As well as wearing cool vests, this includes drinking cold water, placing icepacks and using menthol. Medical staff are also advised to take cold showers or baths after a shift. Some hospitals have installed slush puppy machines for their intensive care staff to help them cool down.
Taking care of doctors and nurses
The research into cooling techniques was carried out by the Radboud University Medical Centre (Nijmegen), the HAN University of Applied Sciences (Arnhem an Nijmegen), the VU (Amsterdam) and Delft University of Technology. The project for the development of cool vests and personalised cooling strategies for individual sportspersons financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMW). The organisation usually focusses on ensuring optimal recovery of patients, through this project it is taking care of doctors and nurses instead.