The track hospital is ready! Doctors and nurses have recreated real emergencies on the edge of the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit. They are ready to treat pilots who have suffered a serious accident as well as spectators suffering from heat stroke or alcohol intoxication.
Posted at 5:00
“We treat everyone,” says emergency doctor François Scarborough, co-director of the track hospital. “For practical reasons, minor cases are sent to the public clinic, but if someone has a heart attack we bring them here,” explains the man who has been working as a volunteer for the Canadian Grand Prix for fifteen years.
The emergency room doctor is surrounded by a large team of the Sacred Heart hospital: nurses, respirators, anesthetists, orthopedists, neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons … They have set up an intensive care room – an exact replica – in the Pirelli tower, where the the race started at the exit of the hairpin.
“The number of people we treat depends a lot on the temperature,” says Dr.r Scarborough wearing a flame retardant suit to check his size.
There are many people who have heart or lung problems. Their condition is generally stable, but with the track temperature rising to 40C, sometimes 50C in hot weather, and when they hydrate with Molson, some decompress.
The Dr François Scarborough, emergency physician
Doctors and nurses from the temporary hospital all remember the death of a worker in 2013. The Formula 1 race had just ended, spectators were leaving Île Notre-Dame, but the volunteer was hit by a tow truck. He was transported to the field hospital, then transferred by helicopter to the Sacred Heart where he was pronounced dead.
The Dr Pierre Fiset, co-director of the track hospital, also mentions the cardiac arrest of the Formula 1600 driver and RDS driver Didier Schraenen in 2010. The latter collapsed to the ground in the pits. “He was flown by helicopter to the Sacred Heart, where he was awaited by a cardiologist. He did an electrocardiogram, a coronary, they put stents on him [endoprothèses] and bye visit! He crashed at 11:15 am and was off the hook by 1:15 pm, ”says the passionate Formula 1 anesthetist.
I think it was Stéphane Laporte who said that the best place to get sick during the Grand Prix weekend is here. There is no waiting to see a doctor.
The Dr Pierre Fiset, anesthetist
The fact remains that doctors rarely treat Formula 1 drivers over the weekend. “Where we will probably have more work is with the small formulas, the secondary races [Coupe Nissan Sentra, Challenge Ferrari, F1600] “, Specifies the Dr Fisto. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, enrollments have increased this year, he notes. Drivers are also less experienced than Formula 1 and their vehicles are less safe.
No racing without a helicopter
In addition to the volunteer personnel mobilized at the track hospital and at the public clinic, five medical teams are stationed at the refueling wells. Of the bailouts they are also scattered around the track. They are the only specialists trained to get a driver out of his Formula 1 car in the event of an accident.
“Want to see a formation of to save ? Come to my car ”, the D throws us all of gor Fiset who still has to answer the thousand and one questions from the volunteers. The doctor drives along the Olympic Basin and stops in front of a small brown building. Inside, about thirty people (doctors, nurses, respirators) practice immobilizing a pilot, taking off his helmet without moving his neck and making him come out of the cockpit using straps. The seat acts as a scoreboard.
On Thursday afternoon, officials from the International Automobile Federation (FIA) also checked and timed their maneuvers. During the day, doctors and nurses also participated in two simulations. They had time to practice loading a stretcher onto a helicopter.
“You always need a helicopter on site, otherwise the races will be completely suspended, explains Michael Pilote, Chief Pilot of Airmedic. So we have a helicopter on site and another in Saint-Hubert. As soon as a patient gets on board the helicopter, Saint-Hubert’s one will take off to take the place of the first so that they never get discovered. ”
It is the FIA that requires the presence of a helicopter-ambulance, underlines the Dr Scarborough. “Transporting a serious case by road would be unimaginable. There are more than 100,000 people on Île Notre-Dame. It would be dangerous and lead to too long delays, ”explains the one who is nicknamed Scarby by his peers.
And, doctors, in closing, who will win the Grand Prix? The heart of the two doctors rests on the Monegasque Charles Leclerc.
“But I don’t care a bit who will win, specifies the Dr Fisto. Me, that’s what I like, is being with this whole gang, this gang of really devoted people. ”