During the week of the Reno Rodeo, Drs. Travis Kieckbusch and Christopher Dolan typically see nearly as many patients after hours as they do during their normal work days.
Those patients have injuries including broken ankles, shoulder problems and a lot of concussions. The doctors work out of a medical trailer parked near the chutes at the Reno Rodeo and they cater to the medical needs of the competing cowboys and cowgirls.
Both men are orthopaedic surgeons with Great Basin Orthopaedics.
“This will be my fourth year doing this and I love it. It’s a way of giving back,” said Dolan.
This will be the sixth year for Kieckbusch.
“It’s such a great group of people and it’s such an underserved population,” Kieckbusch said of the pro rodeo athletes. “They really appreciate the help. And they are tough. I’ve seen them work through a lot that most other athletes wouldn’t.”
The two good doctors and a few trainers, physical therapists and medical students donate their time and talents through the Justin Boots Sports Medicine program. That program travels the rodeo circuit across the country working with volunteer doctors and specialists in the different communities to provide care to the rodeo participants.
“Justin Boots has done well in this business and this is their way of helping the athletes,” Dolan said. “They are a very different breed of athlete.
If they don’t compete, they don’t get paid. So they don’t want to hear that they may need to sit a few out,” Dolan said. “But this is a great way to help them. “ It’s a commitment for the medical staff, but it’s one they enjoy.
“I work my regular hours and do my surgeries and see my patients and then after work I head to the rodeo and I’m there often until as late as 11 at night.” Sometimes it’s injuries that have happened that night. Or they are checking on injuries that happened the night before in another town. And sometimes it’s for chronic injuries that need constant attention. If it’s serious enough, they are referred to the local hospitals. A lot of the cases are as simple as stretching out sore muscles.
In a typical night, the docs can see anywhere from 2-20 patients.
“Concussions are a big problem,” said Kieckbusch. “And just try and imagine having a bull step on you or fall on you. All that weight can crush your chest, dislocate a shoulder or break a leg.
“So you have to be ready for anything.”
Kieckbusch is from a ranching and rodeoing family.
He said it’s a way of life, helping each other out. Dolan said he just wants to give back.
“It’s a whole different kind of sport than baseball or football or track,” Kieckbusch said. “We both work with local teams including some of the high schools and with the Wolf Pack teams. But we do this because this is what we do. We believe in this community and want to help out.”
This year, the Reno Rodeo runs through June 27. And the doctors will be there every night, next to the chutes in the Justin Boots Sports Medicine van — just in case anyone needs them.