Team members are veterans who have risen through the ranks in firedepartments, ambulance service, and rescue helicopters. "We don't haveany rookies," declares Bromley. "And when the guys leave the trackSunday night, they all go back to full-time jobs in emergency services.They draw on what they learn during the week when they show up for arace on weekends. I won't have anyone on the crew who isn't working fulltime," he says. "I want them at the top of their skill."
Each of the four seats in the truck carries a different responsibility.The driver is the rescue team leader. He positions the truck as abarrier between his crew and oncoming cars, and jumps from the rig torush to the driver. He and the front seat passenger are responsible forassessing the driver's condition and figuring out immediately what needsto be done.
One of the first things the lead paramedic does is look the driver inthe eye and ask questions.
"When you know these guys as well as we do, you can tell a lot by howthey react . . . you know if there is something wrong inside thehelmet," Bromley says.
Meanwhile, one of the back seat paramedics races to the scene withfire-fighting equipment. The fourth becomes the backup to any of thethree who need help.
Inside the CART medical center, the emergency physician watches atelevision monitor to review the wreck and see what the paramedics aredoing for the driver. "The entire medical team is on the same radio, soeveryone knows what we are working with," Bromley says. They will reporta driver's condition, using one of four numbers based on the severity ofthe injuries.
"Depending on the number, the pilots may be asked to warm up thehelicopter," Bromley says.
Knowing what's going on at the track helps the doctors and hisassistants prep for action. The system also allows the emergency team todetermine if the driver needs to be transported directly to thehospital. That was the case two years ago when Alex Zanardi lost bothlegs in a crash in Germany and was in danger of bleeding to death.Zanardi survived the crash and last summer drove demonstration lapsaround the German oval in a car equipped with hand controls.
"Alex was certainly the high point for our system," Bromely says. "Butthere have been a lot of others people don't even know about. And everynow and again, something happens and there is nothing you can do."
Popular Greg Moore died at California Speedway in 1999. He was deadbefore the crew got to the scene.
"Those are the tough ones," Bromley says. "Those are the tough ones." --Jerry Boone
WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US?
Concerns about safety exist at every level of racing because there isdanger no matter if you race at Rockingham, North Carolina, or Rockford,Illinois. "Some tracks do a very good job," says Dave Hatlem with K&KInsurance, the company that holds policies on most racetracks and manyteams and events throughout the country.
CART's Simple Green Safety...
CART's Simple Green Safety Team uses four Ford pickups equipped withfire-fighting and rescue gear designed for the type of wrecks andinjuries typical to a racetrack.
"Other tracks don't do a very good job at all," he says.
Hatlem says there are about 1,100 short tracks in America, and K&Krefuses to insure about a third of them. Issues range from the height offences to the type of fire equipment. "And some of it is simply theoperator's attitude toward safety," he points out.
For example, there are tracks that still don't require fire suits, andaccept DOT-approved helmets, rather than those that meet the stricterSnell Foundation standards. A few tracks consider gasoline tanks builtfor boats as meeting their "fuel cell" requirement. Poorly trainedrescue crews have been known to spray water on gasoline fires, spreadingthe blaze rather than containing it.
Mark Beck, K&K's vice president of market resources, says drivers atshort tracks are just as likely to be injured as Winston Cup starsrunning at Daytona or Darlington. "In Winston Cup the speed is greaterbut the skill level is also greater," Beck says. "On a short track, carsaren't going very fast, but you have a huge difference in the ability ofthe people behind the wheel. Statistically, the numbers of incidents areabout the same."
The insurance company's chief concern is for spectators, so its emphasisis on safety for people who sit outside the oval. "The drivers know thedangers," Beck says. "They all sign the waiver." Bottom line: If you areon-track, you must take responsibility for your safety. --JerryBoone