By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — X Games fans are no doubt watching the extreme athletes while in awe of their stunts.

But there’s another group keeping a close eye on them for a much more important reason. Emergency personnel like paramedics have to be ready to act when those high flying moves go wrong. It’s why they’ve been preparing for an entire year for the entertaining but also dangerous event.

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At the X Games, there’s no shortage of thrills, chills and unfortunately some gnarly spills. One that’s forever etched in X Games history is when skateboarder Jake Brown fell nearly 40 feet during the Big Air event in 2009. Miraculously, he walked away from the crash landing, but extreme sports fans still struggle to watch it.

(credit: CBS)

“That’s terrifying, I mean I couldn’t do it,” said Cory Taylor who was visiting Minneapolis from Boston to watch the X Games.

“I just think like every single person I watch, I’d be on edge like so nervous like ‘oh thank god they made it’,” said fan Elly Krusemark as she envisioned would it would be like as a first responder at the event.

But show that video to an actual first responder and fear is far from their minds.

“When I look at that, I’m right away thinking multiple system trauma,” said Mike Trullinger, Public Information Officer with Hennepin Emergency Medical Services (EMS). “And we go in, and this is what we do at Hennepin EMS, we do trauma.”

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Trullinger said preparing for the X Games requires increased staffing for Hennepin EMS which already oversees events at US Bank Stadium.

“Each venue or event has a paramedic there and then there are two transport teams solely for the purpose of getting the person out of the venue, into where the ambulances are located in the stadium,” he said.

Luckily, there are surgeons and doctors ready to help only one block away at Hennepin County Medical Center.

“To me, it’s huge because in trauma, time is everything,” Trullinger said.

Brown’s outcome is what paramedics hope to see, along with the athletes landing their breath-taking tricks.

“From what I’ve seen they absolutely know how they should fall to avoid injury as much as possible. But if it happens, we don’t want to, but if it does we’re right there,” he said.

In addition to Hennepin EMS, Trullinger said ESPN has its own medical staff on hand who are often first to act during an emergency.

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And on top of watching out for the athletes, Hennepin EMS has to also keep an eye on the fans and its normal coverage area around downtown.

Jeff Wagner