Thread: Daytona 500 crash
02-16-2004, 07:39 AM #1
- Join Date
- Apr 2003
Daytona 500 crash
I was just wondering if anyone had any comments on Michael Waltrips remarks about the team of rescuers attempting to get him out of the car after his crash. I would think that the drivers would be familiar with EMS protocol concerning c-spine protection. I'm sure he was shaken up by the incident, but it still bothers me that he didn't appreciate at all what they were trying to do for him. If anyone missed it, while his car was upside down after overturning a few times, he was telling rescuers to just turn the car back over.
02-16-2004, 09:06 AM #2
- Join Date
- Oct 2002
I can understand what he was saying, he knows if he is hurt, he wasnt, he knows that being the size that he is they would have had to cut every bar on the car to get him out while it was on its roof, he knows that he has an escape hatch in the roof,I would have had no problem rolling the car over, but it would have been hooked to a wrecker and let down in a controlled fashion.
I think the underlying message that michael was getting at was that nascar needs their own safety crew that follows them to every track, not piecing one together when you get there.
Also they should not interview a person directly after a crash, nobody knows what is going to come out of their mouth when that much adrenaline is pumping, but I have met michael a few times and I am confident that when he calmed down, that he went and thanked all the rescuers involved for what they were trying to do.
02-16-2004, 03:18 PM #3
[QUOTE]Originally posted by KAPNKRNCH
"I think the underlying message that michael was getting at was that nascar needs their own safety crew that follows them to every track, not piecing one together when you get there."
The underlying message is that NASCAR has to relay the same information to all the safety teams to make sure everyone knows what they want.
I'm on the fire crew at Pocono and there are several limits that NASCAR places on us that could and have made us look bad. Last year they told us that in a situation like Michael's, driver is conscious and alert, that we should turn the car back over. It looked to me like the officials on the scene were holding up that effort and making the safety team try to extricate him without flipping the car.
Also with out the new slow down rule it took the teams longer to get out onto the track because they can't go until NASCAR tells them to and they can't pull out with the drivers racing for the start/finish line.
As a pit fireman I have to ask the official in charge of my pit whether I can go over the wall using my discretion or his. If he says I have to wait for his okay that might mean I have to wait for him to get back into the pit before I can jump the wall.
Maybe CART & IRL have their act together more than NASCAR and that's why their systems look better.
As for "piecing" a team together for each race most tracks, including Pocono, have safety teams in place all year for all the events they have there, not just the NASCAR events. You make it sound like the tracks walk around the parking lot prior to a race and ask "Who wants to be a fireman today?" I'm starting my 8th year at Pocono and resent the implication that we are not as good as any traveling team could be.
Let's not start this "all safety teams suck" thread again until all the facts are out there.
Last edited by dragonfyre; 02-16-2004 at 03:23 PM.
02-16-2004, 08:01 PM #4
- Join Date
- May 2000
- Wheaton IL
At Chicagoland their are 6 races for the year. How much experience can you possibly get. To my knowledge the tools haven't been used yet in Joliet.
I'm not saying that you personally don't have experience but the prior point about a traveling team is relevant.
With the safety equipment in the cars today it doesn't suprise me that he wasn't injured.
Hell, look at regular crashes, rollovers with restraints used are usually minor in comparison to other MVC's.
02-16-2004, 09:01 PM #5
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
I was really surprised to see them flip the car like they did. I could see using your airbags or a wrecker to pick it up to get him out, but just flipping it over looked like it could have been dangerous. How did he know he didn't have a spinal injury? I broke my neck in a motorcyle accident and didn't realize I had a C5/6 fracture until they X rayed my neck when I went to the ER to get my lip sewed back on. I thought his attitude was totally arrogant. They were doing their jobs in a safe manner. He should have appreciated that. Besides that it was great to see Dale Jr. win. Senior would have been proud.
02-16-2004, 09:42 PM #6
You do not flip the car back if:
A) If the driver is unconsious. They are unable to tell you if they are hurt that way.
B) If the driver tells that they are hurt in any way. They know when they are plus the medics will go throught the usual "can you feel or wiggle" questions.
The drivers are so restrained between the Haans device the belts the seat and the leg restaints that flipping them one more time should not do any (or more) damage to them.
That is the only time they would flip it back. You could tell Michael wasn't injured by the way he got out once they did flip it.
We are also told in the pre-race meeting with NASCAR officials not to take anything personally that the drivers might say in the heat of the moment.
02-17-2004, 01:16 AM #7
- Join Date
- Apr 1999
- Fort Mohave, AZ
While YOU and your crew at Pocono may be competent, there are probably tracks where the crews are not. I considered working at the drag strip outside Denver, but dismissed it when I found out how little they paid. I am sure that safety crews are racing fanatics, but there is little guarantee that they will be extrication experts. Even if NASCAR had their own safety team (as, I believe, NHRA does), they would still require the assistance of local crews. The dedicated team would be available, however, to lead complicated rescue situations when individuals like you are not available.
As I am sure you would agree, training in race car extrication is a little hard to come by, car technology and safety measures change frequently, and it would be hard to argue that a dedicated NASCAR team would be a detriment.
On a different note, while I understand that the good Mr. Waltrip was a little agitated, he should remember that the safety crew is focused on doing what they think is best for his safety. He should have kept his big yap shut about the safety crews and confined his comments to the two rookies he was complaining about. Safety crews do not get the opportunity to address a national television audience to defend their efforts. I doubt he would have liked it if the crew had advised him to get himself out after he started yelling like a spoiled brat. Reminds me of the VFD bumper sticker: "What if they had a fire and no one showed up?" Maybe next time Michael crashes he should wait for his pit crew to jog over from pit road to flip his *** over!
But that's just my .02
02-17-2004, 01:36 AM #8
i didn't care much for MR. Waltrip's comments at all, that is the most stupid thing i have ever heard out of a race car driver. i work at a race track, small dirt track with IMCA cars. most of the drivers let us do our job and extricate when they aren't out by the time we get to them. one comment i have is i realize how well them drivers are straped into the car, and if they are talkin when you get to them the threat is very low that anything is wrong with them, but i still don't agree with flippin the car back over (especially the way it was done) it should be very controlled. if there is even the slightest chance there is head of neck injuries i'm gonna be as careful as possible. someone said they would have had to cut every bar in the car to get him out, wouldn't you cut every piece of metal in an everyday car to get the person out?
02-17-2004, 09:22 AM #9
CB, they're getting out faster since NASCAR made racing back to the caution illegal. In the past, they had to wait for all the cars to take the caution before they could move and that could be a couple of minutes. Now, it is a matter of seconds.
As far as Waltrip's comments go, I will have to bite my tounge a little bit and just say I thought his comments were in very poor taste. I've been attending NASCAR races all my life and I agree they should have a core group that travels to all the races to direct the local assets, but to attack a crew for not "flipping the car over" is way out of line.
02-17-2004, 02:06 PM #10
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
- Dublin Ireland
Here in Ireland we have set protocols for righting race cars where the driver is conscious and talking but is suspended inverted in the seat. We have done a number of drills and rescues on this and generally we try to avoid doing an inverted extrication as a lot of our cars are much smaller and more compact than Nascars and it involves moving a lot of metal. We usually do a controlled righting of the car based on
1) Driver is in usually a custom high sided bucket seat.
2) Driver is wearing a 6 point harness well dogged down.
3) To manouvre the patient out inverted will involve a higher risk
of spinal compromise than a controlled righting .
However to right the car you need
1) A lot of people
2) Good wrecker driver and rigging
3) Good command / coordination
4) Medic inside the car braced in position.
We usually place a blanket roll and frac straps in the car to fill out the gap between the seat and the helmet. The medic takes C spine control.
The car is brought slowly to its side , medic repositions for the final move to 4 wheels and then the car is slowly brought down.
The hardest part is the last 2 feet going down if people lose concentration the car bangs down , the patients head whips from side to side and the medic gets banged about. We never allow it come down unrestricted.
This works well for us and our patients however our heaviest race car is probably only half the weight of a Nascar. I would be interested to hear how other crews deal with inverted , suspended rescues.
Colman Gilligan EMT
02-19-2004, 12:11 PM #11
On a somewhat unrelated subject... what are the tools of choice(Spreader/cutter manufacturer) on Nascar rescue crews? Are they standard from track to track?
02-19-2004, 03:41 PM #12Originally posted by FFTrainer
... what are the tools of choice(Spreader/cutter manufacturer) on Nascar rescue crews? Are they standard from track to track?
NASCAR and Amkus, IRL and Holmatro, NHRA and Hurst, ARCA and Amkus are the ones that I am personally aware of.
While the individual race sanctioning body safety trucks carry the same brand of rescue tools as the manufacturers in their respective agreements, the type of tools carried are similar to what is found on most rescue rigs today: POWER UNIT (usually a SIMO system) -- SPREADER (27" to 32") -- CUTTER (usually the manufacturers most powerful design)-- RAM (short) -- PEDAL CUTTER (if available) on the primary extrication truck and a STRAIGHT COMBI-TOOL WITH MINI-POWER UNIT on one or two additional response trucks is the most common set up.
However, individual motorsports facilities can and do purchase their own rescue tool systems. From my experience, as long as the rescue tool system is reliable (and today most are very reliable), the brand of choice is usually determined by whichever distributor is best capable of providing continued support and "race day backup" to the track's safety team. Hey, if it's made by man, it can and will fail! Most tracks have standby equipment that can be brought out in the event of failure.
Today, NASCAR requires TWO RESCUE TOOL SYSTEMS AND OPERATORS STANDING BY FOR ON TRACK EXTRICATIONS DURING THEIR EVENTS. I am told that this requirement may expand to three systems this season.
For more information on this topic you can visit:
Owner, ///EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT
Member, Kentucky Speedway Fire And Safety Team (F.A.S.T.)
Last edited by EEResQ; 02-19-2004 at 04:40 PM.
02-20-2004, 08:20 AM #13
Less than professional
I've got a couple of comments,one of which Steve can probably answer.First,righting the car the way they did with the equipment that was setting at that track was at the least RECKLESS if not criminal.A VERY controlled roll could(and should)have been performed using the tow truck that was right beside the car.Not subject to debate it would have taken no more time and been a much safer,controlled situation.SSecond,and this in the form or a question.A rollcage is made up of tubing slightly heavier than exhaust tubing.I fail to understand why it would be a major issue to put a door in the side of the car.In this case I think the correct decision was made just poor application.Perhaps Steve could enlighten us why this wasn't a viable option(cutting).Now it may be that not enough tools were available,but we've destroyed a cage(one side) in roughly the time it took to make the decision and right the car(at this event).Again ours was a training event with less damage so I'm looking for an opinion here.T.C.
02-20-2004, 09:28 PM #14
Good Questions Raised -- Answers Humbly Offered
While I have my own opinions on this topic, unless I was standing there listening to what the DAYTONA Speedway Safety Coordinator and the NASCAR Race Safety Director were saying at the time, my opinion is just that. However, they should have used the on-scene wrecker to safely lower Waltrip's car after it was uprighted.
Originally posted by pyroknight
...While YOU and your crew at Pocono may be competent,...
...I am sure that safety crews are racing fanatics, but there is little guarantee that they will be extrication experts....
Race fans yes; fanatics NO!
As anyone involved is motorsports fire-safety will confirm, you are NOT out there to be a spectator. At our track, the HR manager ask new applicants if they are in-fact "die hard" race fans? Anyone responding in the affirmative is advised that they may want to look into another position."
...As I am sure you would agree, training in race car extrication is a little hard to come by,...
Not really. Several major racetracks around the country offer specialized courses of instruction annually. The best known is ACT -- "Accident Care Team" Training at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Any qualified adult can attend. Contact the North Carolina Community College System for more info.
...He (Waltrip) should have kept his big yap shut about the safety crews and confined his comments to the two rookies he was complaining about...
One of the training topics taught to anyone anticipating an on-track position is: "BE A LIKE A DUCK -- LET IT ROLL OFF YOUR BACK." And I agree with you on the rookies!
Safety crews do not get the opportunity to address a national television audience to defend their efforts....
Another lesson teaches us to say: "ALL INQUIRES MUST BE DIRECTED TO THE DIRECTOR OF MEDIA RELATIONS"
Owner, ///EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT
Member, Kentucky Speedway F.A.S.T.
Last edited by EEResQ; 02-20-2004 at 09:35 PM.
02-21-2004, 01:07 PM #15
I was not there at Daytona so I don't know if any NASCAR officials told the crew to flip it like they did. But from what I've heard Michael was awake, alert and yelling at the team to get him out. If he did not get hurt in the accident and the flips he did, flipping it like they did should not cause any injuries. The drivers are in the seats so tight they can barely move yet alone be further jostled.
It was no where near criminal.
I think that the engineers would tell you why there's no door in the sides of the cars. 1) Aerodynamics 2)The roll cage has beams where the doors would be. What are you going to do, put hinges on the roll cage so it can open along with the door? That would hamper the intregity of the cage.
Without being there no one should be making any comments about the incident.
EEResQ: Thank you for the kind words of support.
02-21-2004, 04:22 PM #16
- Join Date
- Apr 2003
Wow, I didn't think this would go as far as it has! OK, while I understand he didn't feel like anything was wrong (and I'll bet he felt it the next day), with the amount of adrenaline flowing through his system I don't think he would have known it if there was. I also understand the protection the cars provide (roll cage, harness, and the HANS etc.) But that still doesn't rule out injury. I just feel perhaps the drivers should be aware of what to expect from the rescue effort, and why they didn't just flip him back over so he could climb out. I wasn't there, but I wouldn't flip over a car like that on the street unless it was life over limb. If he was talking to me, that would mean his ABC's were good, and I'd be especially careful of a spinal injury. I also think with the tool technology we have today, creating a side door in that car would not have taken very long.
Now I admit I have not been trained in race car extrication, but couldn't an air chisle cut the sheet metal? Could an O Cutter not cut the roll cage? If Amkus doesn't make something that does (and I beleive it was Amkus they used at the track) what about a Holmatro cutter with the NCT blades? I would like to know.
02-21-2004, 06:25 PM #17
The question remains to be answered.I've been around race cars long enough to know roll cages don't come with hinges or doors.But I've welded enough of them to know what they are made of.And I'm still inquiring from those of you on the circuit why it would be a big deal to put a "door"(by either sawsall or cutters)in the cage.As I stated,the cage is tubing and not particularly heavy tubing at that.My comment on the righting is based on what I saw sitting beside the car,what I know is sittind at Daytona,and what I could and can do with ANY piece of that recovery equipment.And that car would have set down so gently you could set one of the wheels on an egg without breaking it,instead of it slamming to the ground.It's a past, dead issue but there was a MUCH better way to do it. Criminal was a bad choice of words but it was an attention getter.T.C.
02-23-2004, 01:53 AM #18
Let's not confuse what happened at Daytona to what might happen on Main St., Anywhere, USA. This was not a street version Chevy Monte Carlo with your neighbor Joe Blow behing the wheel. If it were, would I have rolled the car over? Hell no!
Can we compare the mechanism of injury in Waltrip's crash to the same crash involving Joe Blow's chevy? I don't think so. If we could, we'd be flipping cars over on our streets all the time. Joe Blow doesn't have a 5-point harness, a HANS device, and roll and crush protection.
Also, you would have to trust the NASCAR driver's judgement on whether he's hurt or not. This wasn't Mikey's first rodeo. He's wrecked a few cars before. If he could wiggle all the right parts, tell me his name, what day it was, and how he'd gotten into this mess, I'd flip the car over. He's still in the belts and the HANS, right? Can you secure him with a KED or short board any better while you cut him out? I doubt it. Was he wrong to call them out on national TV like he did. Yeah, probably.
My dept. rotates a crew at a local track where All-Star or USAC sprints are ran every weekend. If you've ever seen a sprint car flip, you know how violent that can be. In cases of roll-overs, the EMT performs an assessment of the driver. If he says he's OK and satisfies the EMT's questions, they roll the car over. If not, he's extricated as is needed.
RaceRescue, how many pints of Guiness do you need before crawling into an upside-down race car while it's turned over? Someone mentioned that man-made devices are prone to failure. Add that to a wrecker operator that slips up for a split second while he's lowering the car and now you have 2 patients. Not me brother.
That's my 2 cents anyway.
I love NASCAR and the IRL, but if there ain't dirt in your beer...you ain't been racin'!!!Lt. D. Gordon
Greendale Fire Department
02-23-2004, 08:37 AM #19
Gordo,A couple points of interest here.First the folks working the emergency side of any Superspeedway are supposed to be the cream of the crop and I have no doubt that they are.Things I know;The equipment used at Daytona (towing)is BRAND NEW state of the art stuff.It also is a heavier version than most street issue.The booms have been built/modified to pick up and remove the ENTIRE vehicle.Having been on a "pit crew",I understand the drivers safety devices and the belts.I am still ADAMANT there was a better way to have handled this scene as it was presented on NATIONAL TV than it was handled.When you have the resources that were available there,why not use them.I preach regularly here about Big Rig Rescue,and there is a reason.Billy Leach is one of a few people in the country that gets the "BIG PICTURE".He realizes that well trained recovery operators along with cross trained Fire/Rescue personnel can and do make dramatic differences in MVA outcomes.I am PROUD to stand beside and work with Billy on these trainings.His program has been of great benefit to those depts who have chosen to accept the challenge and this program extends FAR beyond just Big Rigs,you can use it's principals everyday on every MVA.As far as a tow truck slipping,it's possible but in this scenerio,highly unlikely.The tow trucks at Daytona are used for the season and then are sold to tow operators across the country as discounted "new" units.Hope this helps,T.C/
Last edited by Rescue101; 02-23-2004 at 12:29 PM.
02-23-2004, 11:55 AM #20
- Join Date
- Apr 2003
"Can we compare the mechanism of injury in Waltrip's crash to the same crash involving Joe Blow's chevy? I don't think so. If we could, we'd be flipping cars over on our streets all the time. Joe Blow doesn't have a 5-point harness, a HANS device, and roll and crush protection."
Cars on the street aren't doing 200mph around a tri oval.
"Also, you would have to trust the NASCAR driver's judgement on whether he's hurt or not. This wasn't Mikey's first rodeo. He's wrecked a few cars before. If he could wiggle all the right parts, tell me his name, what day it was, and how he'd gotten into this mess, I'd flip the car over."
See my other post
02-23-2004, 02:29 PM #21
Experts Were On-Scene:
Wouldn't it be great to have an unedited video tape of the complete incident along with writen statements from all players reporting what each participant observed, what was said and by whom, and what was done? Fact is, NASCAR already possesses this valuable information and they are conducting an internal review to see if there are any areas where improvement is needed.
If the NASCAR race safety types find problems, corrective actions will be part of the pre-race safety meetings in weeks to come.
Right or wrong is hard to determine without the first hand "who said what" and "who ordered what" to go along with the video taped evidence. But you can bet on this,
...by the time the Daytona crew finally fliped Waltrip's car back over, the Daytona Speedway Fire-Safety Coordinator, a Trauma Surgeon (with on-track race experience), and the NASCAR Race Safety Diector were on-scene and calling the plays.
NOTE: The rescue tool that I observed being deployed to the car apeared to be an AMKUS "Speedway" Cutter. Good choice!
Last edited by EEResQ; 02-23-2004 at 02:34 PM.
02-24-2004, 02:33 AM #22
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
- Dublin Ireland
Interesting to see the different views on this coming through.
I am still interested to hear peoples views on scenarios where we end up with the driver suspended upside down.
Gordoffemt , its fair comment about putting the medic in. The scenario I was talking about was where we had a car inverted with intact cage etc. With any possibility of cage compromise then the support rams go in and we extricate from the inverted position.
We have had two instances of distraction injury caused by a violent roll where the competitor is fulled belted in and supported by the seat but did not have HANS or seat wraparounds at head level. Combined with heavy helmets we had two C4 fractures luckily without paralysis.
Again we would proceed as suggested where our doctor ( ER consultant ) assess's the patient in the seat and then OK's the controlled roll or not.
For extrication from the inverted belted in position how do you control the lowering of the patient onto the board once the belts are released. We use wide strapping through the seat belt slots in the seat which allows two crew carefully lower the patient. I have seen the airbags used and a KED on an aussie website. Anyone any other ideas??
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