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First aid in motor sport
  1. Paul McCrory
  1. 31 Grosvenor Parade, Balwyn, Victoria 3103, Australia pmccrory{at}

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    (video). Motorsport Safety Fund, PO Box 239, West Malling, Kent ME19 4BL, UK. (£10.00 including post and packing.)

    This video is designed to cover first aid practices in motor sport. The authors claim that it is aimed at giving everyone involved in all disciplines of motor sport a basic understanding of first aid. Having watched the video through twice, I remain unclear as to whether this aim is actually achieved.

    Clearly in a 13 minute video, one cannot hope to cover first aid in any detail. Therefore people who watch the video need to be familiar with first aid beforehand. Why would you then watch such a video? Perhaps as a quick update of the issues before a sporting event. I would think for most first aiders this information is almost too basic and would suspect that they may gain little from the exercise.

    The problem is that the video concentrates primarily on the basics of first aid—that is, the “ABC” approach as well as other issues of hypothermia, burns, and so forth which are covered in a very superficial way. As such, the appropriate market for the video may be participants, marshals, or others not directly involved in medical care, to give them at least a passing familiarity with this area. Unfortunately to cover helmet removal and so forth is taking the role of a non-trained person too far. Perhaps the video may serve as an introduction to a first aid update or requalification course, but then many of the segments would require detailed discussion and explanation. Having said all that, it is a well produced product which, to me, does not have a simple market in motor sport safety.

    I was disappointed that, although it is supposed to be about motor sport, very few action shots of motor accidents are shown and most of the first aid is stock standard stuff not necessarily related to motor racing. There is little information specific to motor sport—for example, extraction of injured drivers from vehicles—mainly because this area rightly needs further training. There is a discussion of helmet removal in the vehicle; however, I was slightly uneasy as to whether this is an appropriate recommendation for an introductory first aid video. Although a doctor is shown directing the process, I am not sure that it is relevant for basic first aid. There are clearly situations where it is necessary, but this perspective was not clear to me from watching the video.

    Toward the end of the video, a spectacular crash is shown with a rally car tumbling down a steep ravine and landing upside down in a river. As a race medical doctor, this sent chills down my spine as to the logistics of medical care in such a situation. The only issue discussed then is drowning, and the scene jumps to an unconscious driver already out of the vehicle on level ground. The video then shows the first aider pushing heavily on his back to expel any water in his mouth before rolling him over to perform EAR. No mention is made of the ABCs at this point or whether the diagnosis needs to be assessed. Simply the treatment of a drowning is the focus of the segment. I was also surprised about the pushing on the back as the initial step. I obviously need my first aid skills brushed up on this point, and, coming from a country where drowning/near drowning is a common occurrence on our beaches, I will follow this unusual approach up with our local authorities. Perhaps the video should emphasise the point that, regardless of a potential spinal injury in such situations, a clear airway is the primary goal.

    In my hometown, we are lucky enough to have a F1 Grand Prix every year, and the elite medical care available is impressive both to observe and take part in. At smaller motor racing events where the medical care is limited, the need for appropriately trained first aiders and marshals is paramount. The Motorsport Safety Fund does a fantastic job promoting safety issues in this sport. They produce a range of videos, manuals, booklets, tabards, etc of the highest standard as well as a regular newsletter. Anybody involved in the sport would do well to be in contact with this organisation.

    I am not sure that this video is the answer to motor sport safety. It is too superficial for the experienced motor sport first aider, does not cover specific extraction or other medical issues for rescue crews, and, to me, the market for such a product is unclear apart from a quick overview for participants and marshals. With that caveat, there are issues discussed that go beyond their level of expertise. The video has many strengths, however. It does reinforce the basics of first aid, is very professionally produced, and the advice is practical rather than didactic. As a quick overall update of the ABCs, it is simple and to the point.


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