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 Columns & Editorials

August 23, 2001

"Safety," Is It Not Important?

by Sharon Fancher

Safety issue's in racing has created a disturbing question, in which I've wondered about for quite some time now. Safety in racing, "Just what does that mean to a driver?" Especially after carefully listening to the Karnac staff and Craig Clarke on the Karnac Real Racin Talk Show, discuss the cost of having an ambulance and emergency personnel present at the track.

Why would a driver not want an ambulance or at least some sort of emergency transportation available if needed present at the track? Qualified emergency personnel being on hand is great, but what if a driver or anyone at the track were to be seriously injured and need to be transported to a facility that could give the necessary advanced treatment that might be needed?

Has anyone ever really considered how long it can take for an ambulance or helicopter which is even faster, to arrive at a track? Then having to turn around and take the injured back to a facility to be given necessary treatment? Those few minutes could mean the difference between a life and death situation.

Where I'm from an ambulance present on the track was never an issue, it was a State law. So when I moved to Florida and witnessed my first serious accident at Ocala Speedway, I assumed the track had an ambulance present, but all to soon it was brought to my attention that there wasn't one present. After realizing this, all I could say was, "Oh My God, I can't believe there isn't an ambulance here to get this man to a hospital." So I sat there in the stands praying to God that someone would arrive quick.

Being a CNA and knowing this man was suffering from life threatening burns, and also thinking about how that could be a loved one of mine, made me want to run out on the track to help in anyway possible, but I knew there was nothing I could do. That is the most helpless and horrible feeling a person can have and one that I'll never forget. It still runs chills up and down my spine just thinking about it.

Eventually the severely burned man was air lifted off the track, by a Stat Medical helicopter. But as a witness to that scene, I will also tell you it took what seemed like forever for that helicopter to arrive at the Speedway from Gainesville. Then it took even longer for it to finally find out how and where it was actually going to land. About 20 minutes altogether total time in getting there and landing.

Can you imagine how his family felt? They were present and had to watch as a loved one of there's was suffering from life threatening burns and for it to take 45 minutes to an hour for him to finally get transported to a facility, must have had to seem like an eternity to them.

So what I would like to ask all of the drivers, fans, and everyone else associated with racing, doesn't safety need to be considered the #1 priority? Is it not worth the extra money that could be spent toward admission to pay for an ambulance on the track? I for one know that I would be willing to give more money to help cover the cost of ambulance, and the fact of knowing there would be proper transportation and more advanced medical equipment available if my racing family or anyone else were ever to need it. The safety crews and personnel we have are GREAT, but medical transportation provided at the scene when and if needed I know would also prove to be beneficial.

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