Extricating a driver from a race car following an accident is a crucial area of safety.
Stabilising and immobilising that driver is imperative to prevent further injury but the skills to do so must be learnt and practiced. This is why the FIA Institute, with support from the FIA Foundation, has been running extrication courses and providing support throughout 2014.
In January at the Le Mans circuit in Northern France over 20 extrication teams from around the world gathered for a specialist training course organised by the FIA Institute alongside the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile (FFSA).
They included teams from Spain, UK, Belgium, Portugal, Holland and Germany, as well as delegates from the rest of the world there to observe the training, with representatives from as far afield as Japan, Argentina, Australia, USA, Canada and South Africa.
This global gathering was there not just to develop new skills but also to learn from each other, ensuring that best practice for extrication in motor sport is utilised the world over.
The extrication course was developed over the last two years by Dr. Jean-Jacques Issermann and FIA Institute Medical Advisor Dr. Paul Trafford, along with all of the FIA Medical Delegates.
The two-day training event at Le Mans enabled extrication teams to familiarise themselves with the latest knowledge, techniques and equipment under expert guidance. A number of training resources were provided to help the participants, including Toyota’s TS030 Hybrid Le Mans Challenger, two GP2 chassis supplied by the DAMS team and the FIA Institute’s new F1 extrication simulator. All extrication teams were able to acquaint themselves with a variety of machinery and methods to extricate a stricken driver from their vehicle.
FIA Institute President Professor Gerard Saillant said: “Extrication in motor sport is a medical practice that requires a very specific set of skills, and its exercise is something the medical motor sport community has perfected over many years.”
At FIA championships, in the event of an accident, a Medical Intervention Vehicle will arrive first at the scene and perform an initial assessment. Upon arrival of the extrication unit, the trackside doctor briefs the extrication team leader on the situation and together they determine an extrication strategy. The extrication team then steps in and carries out the agreed extrication procedure, updating the doctor on any changes to the victim’s status.
Practice is crucial for an extrication team to be effective. Training events, such as the one at Le Mans, help medical teams prepare for races and provide a forum for the dissemination of knowledge about extrication.
Further help has been provided by the development of an extrication simulator, funded by the FIA Foundation’s Motor Sport Safety Development Fund. Built from fibre-glass, the simulator is a replica of a Formula One car from just behind the driver to the nosecone. It contains everything you would expect in a modern Formula One car, including a removable extrication seat, and offers the chance for track teams to practice before an event and without worrying about damaging the real cars. The simulators have been sent to circuits around the world for practice and training, including venues ready to host a Formula One weekend. They have also been an instrumental port of the universal extrication course that has been developed.
There is an official extrication exercise on the Thursday before every Formula One race weekend when teams have access to F1 cars. But with new extrication simulators teams can now practice all year round with a chassis identical to the one used by F1 teams, ensuring teams are better prepared than ever.