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Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Watching Over The Safety Of Drivers And Fans

By Chief Craig Clarke
KARNAC.com
Safety Editor


You’re sitting in the stands watching the race when all of a sudden, CRASH, BOOM, BANG!
A massive pileup happens right in front of your eyes. You hold your breath as several workers run to the twisted pile of metal. You think to yourself this is bad, then it gets worse. This massive pile of cars then erupts into flames. As the crowd gasps and watches in horror, these brave workers that ran to this melee, now extinguish the flames and rescue the drivers.

Extraordinary? Sure, but this is just an average Saturday night for the thousands of Motorsports Emergency workers across the United States. This dedicated and highly motivated group is made up of professionals and volunteers alike from various backgrounds. Their training varies from minimal to highly advanced specialized instruction.

Each Track has it’s own special setup for safety & emergency services. Some tracks have their own equipment and hire their own people, while others hire outside Contractors such as TRACK RESCUE to provide Safety Services for the event. Many tracks will also hire an Ambulance service to provide either BLS(Basic Life Support) or ALS(Advanced Life Support) Emergency Medical Services for the Drivers and fans. Each State has different regulations on EMS (Emergency Medical Services) and will dictate what the Ambulance is supposed to have as far as equipment and trained personnel on board. These Units will normally be Licensed for the Level of service that they will be providing, and in most cases, will be the same units that provide 911 service to the community.

The Safety crew, which normally provides Fire/Rescue, Fire/Suppression & in most cases cleanup support, could consist of 2-6 people in a vehicle designed for this purpose. Some places may have an engine company from the local Fire Department, while others will make their own or hire an outside contractor that has their own vehicles to provide this service. Most of these crews are comprised of Firefighters (Both Career and Volunteer) and workers from other backgrounds such as EMS or related fields.

The training for these groups varies as there is no set standard at the present time for Motorsports Safety with the exception of the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 610, which are guidelines that facilities should have as a minimum. These groups may train on their own or with other track groups from their area. In addition, there are companies that conduct private training based on NFPA610 and their own experience to educate new and experienced workers on the latest techniques and advancements to the sport.

Equipment that would typically found on one of these trucks would include Fire Extinguishers, Hand & Power tools capable of cutting sheet metal and roll cage components including heavy hydraulic cutters, and some sort of main fire extinguishment system such as a water/foam or dry chemical tank setup with hose capable of reaching a large scale fire. This equipment varies vastly with different manufacturers and types as well as locations that they are placed in the truck. Everyone has their own “preferred” layout or design that works the best for them. It should be a setup that is easy to access, but is protected when not in use.

Remember that the MOST IMPORTANT VEHICLE at any race event, is the Fire/Rescue vehicle because if you have a large fire, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS until the fire is under control.

So next time you are at an event, take time to stop by and thank the Safety Crew for being there to protect your loved ones...


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