Dedicated doctor focused on safety

Dedicated doctor focused on safety

Even after five largely accident- free races, the chief medical officer of the Formula One Sing- Tel Singapore Grand Prix still jolts awake in the middle of the night in cold sweat, months before the actual race.

Said Dr Kelvin Chew, who has been involved with providing medical support since the inaugural 2008 edition: "You worry all the time about possible scenarios that we might not have thought about. "That's why I have nightmares."

"We prepare for all kinds of scenarios," he added with a nervous laugh. "We're always telling the team to prepare for the worst."

His team of about 100 - including doctors, nurses, paramedics and ambulance teams - volunteer several weekends to prepare for the race. Those on the extrication teams have to go through at least double the amount of training.

A separate team of about 200 are responsible for providing support for the spectators.

Practice is crucial, said Dr Chew, who is also the deputy head of the Changi Sports Medicine Centre.

He said: "Nothing beats lots of preparation and rehearsals. We trawl YouTube to look at incidents at other races, see how we could respond in our local setting and try to improve on it."

Staying ahead of the times in terms of equipment is equally important.

This year, for instance, a mobile X-ray machine that can transmit images wirelessly will be introduced. It is believed that the Silverstone circuit, which hosts the British Grand Prix, is the only other race on the F1 calendar that uses this.

But for all the time, toil and sweat put into preparation, Dr Chew hopes none of the theory comes into use.

He said: "Our job is to think of the worst and prepare for the worst. Fortunately, the safety procedures and efficient race control have made racing a lot safer."

maychen@sph.com.sg


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