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At first blush, seeing someone take a hand-held oscillating saw to a brand-new Simpson helmet seems like...well, something went wrong here, didn't it? That's precisely why the saw was being used in the first place. When it comes to safety and racing, the racing helmet is instrumental in keeping any occupant of the vehicle from destructive impact forces, but even the helmet itself can only do so much, depending on the severity of the crash. Same with a HANS or similar restraint device, or even the harness belts. Sometimes, the crash is that bad. It's been the element of risk that has followed racing around since the first two horseless carriages squared off on some dirt track over a century ago, but even with decades of development and improvement, there is still the shadow of serious injury or death that racers and support crew must face. Race long enough, and sooner or later there will be an accident. And when there is, medical support teams at tracks need to be prepared to step in and provide immediate medical care, whether it's simply helping an injured driver from the wrecked car to the ambulance or they need to provide immediate life-support care when seconds matter.
Each station of the Jump Medic Training program featured hands-on exercises with props that simulated real-world situations, like this halo-equipped Formula 1 cockpit.
In a meeting room within Lucas Oil Stadium, PRI 2022 show attendees who had signed up were able to attend the Race Track Safety Program (RTSP) Jump Medic Training that was hosted by the International Council of Motorsport Sciences (ICMS). Set up as a round-robin style training course with stations that covered everything from proper vehicle extraction techniques on everything from a rally-spec Ford Fiesta to a Sprint Car-style body tub, to how to properly intubate a patient, to the aforementioned helmet-carving session, the Jump Medic Training program allows trainees the chance to have actual hands-on demonstrations with the supervision and insight of ICMS staff.
At this station, students were taught how to safely remove a helmet and fireproof head covering, with an emphasis on the teamwork required.
"Today, it's all about hands-on skills training. We have firefighters, we have paramedics, we have EMTs, we have doctors, and we have nurses who all work in motorsports from around the world doing hands-on training, and so many of them have never been able to get their hands on Holmatro Rescue Tools and cut a Simpson helmet, or cut belts," according to Tom Weisenbach, the Executive Director of ICMS. "We have eight different stations that they go through, and before they transfer to the next station they have to demonstrate that they've learned the actual skill, then they get checked off to move to the next station. It's an SFI-Certified course, so for us, we're the deliverers of that curriculum."
Several Simpson helmets were used to teach students the proper method of trimming away a helmet for emergency situations.
Students made their way around the room, each trying out their hand at a different skill. While some were learning how to tell if they needed to treat an injured patient in situ or how to safely remove them from the vehicle to a safer location, others were learning how to properly intubate a patient that was already extracted and needed breathing assistance. While some were learning the safest techniques on how to remove a patient's helmet, others were learning how to prepare a patient on a backboard for travel. And as far as cutting helmets and belts? According to Martin Price, the Indiana dealer for Holmatro Rescue Tools, "When you have an unconscious patient in the car and can't get the helmet off right away but need to get an intubation done, you need to cut." Students got the opportunity to actually cut the area of a full-face racing helmet below the visor that covers the lower jawline away with both a Holmatro scissor-action cutting tool and several off-the-shelf oscillating trim saws, and got the opportunity to cut through harness material using a J-hook style cutting blade.
Other aspects of emergency medical training were being taught as well. Here, a dummy is aiding a trainer who is demonstrating how to help an injured patient breathing using an endotracheal intubation.
According to Weisenbach, the Jump Medic Training program that they held at PRI 2022 was going to evolve. "We are launching a "train the trainer" program. At the end of the day, we're going to announce to everyone that is here that we are looking for folks who work at racetracks around the world who want to go through our SFI program, get credentialed, and show us that they know the skills that are needed. We want them to become our trainers in that part of the country or that part of the globe. We can only hit so many cities and so many tracks, so the "train the trainer" program will be great because we're looking for fire, safety and medical teams from tracks around who want to be a part of the ICMS training team. That's the way we are going to be able to cover motorsports at all levels is by having a whole team of people working together on motorsports safety."