Training is essential for...
Training is essential for a safety crew to stay at the top of its game. Here, Dover Speedway Safety personnel take part in a training exercise.
Each higher level (from Awareness to Specialist) adds more specific skills and more specialized training. The command manager, as the name suggests, is in a management role to command and direct emergency response actions while having information about the facility, its EAP, external emergency resources, and civil authorities.
To get an inside look at motorsports safety training, we also spoke with Jennifer Butler and Heather Rehm, who are members of the safety crew for the Checkered Flag Sprint Series based in Tampa, Florida. Their class was held at a local racetrack and consisted of two days of instruction. The instruction was both classroom oriented and hands-on practical.
A first-class safety crew...
A first-class safety crew helps ensure Geoff Bodine's survival in his horrific crash in the NASCAR Truck Series at Daytona in 2000.
The classroom instruction included a video of previous accidents and how the rescue crews responded to them. The responses of the safety crews are then reviewed as to what went right and wrong. The class instruction also included firefighters teaching proper techniques about extinguishing fires, and discussions about the differences between gasoline and alcohol fires. Additionally included in the classroom sessions were instructions on how to describe different types of accidents, accident cleanup, and basic hand signals of safety crews. The most important concept taught during the class was keeping track crew safe while working an accident scene.
The hands-on instruction allowed the students to put into practice many of the concepts they learned in the classroom. In the first part, one of the class members was placed into a car and the class practiced extracation using a backboard. The class also practiced putting out fires, and understanding the difficulties in identifying and extinguishing alcohol fires. The basic layout of different cars was shown and the general process of turning off the engine and shutting off the fuel were taught. The class also used the proper cutting tools to remove a car's roof and cut through rollbars. In addition, the class discussed when and why to cut the car, and to avoid cutting unless it was absolutely necessary. The class that Jennifer and Heather attended ended with a test to show what they had learned.
Lots of smoke is the end result...
Lots of smoke is the end result of the successful fire fighting event.
We hope that race teams and race drivers take the precautions to ensure their safety, but when it's out of their control it falls on the track safety crew to use its training and predefined procedures to ensure the safety of the race facility. Having EMS, fire, and rescue personnel on hand for a race event is a must, but making sure they are trained as to the differences between street vehicles and race vehicles is the determining factor in the care they will provide to the racers.
The knowledge is out there for any facility. The NFPA 610 is a very well-written document that details the procedures for a motorsports facility to become best prepared for most emergency situations. Ask your track owner today whether or not he knows about NFPA 610 and if he doesn't, tell him where to get it.