About the SMMC Motorsport Medical Group

Introducing the SMMC Motorsport Medical Group

John HarringtonThe Scottish Motorsport Marshals Club is one of the leading ‘four-wheel’ motorsport marshalling clubs in the UK, and the only Club in Scotland which is dedicated exclusively to motor sport marshalling in all its disciplines. It is, of course, a club for Scottish marshals. From that generic marshalling base, which is still what the Club is all about, it has developed a couple of important specialisms over the years, namely the Motorsport Rescue Team and the Motorsport Radio Group – both of which provide services to the majority of motorsport events, whether these are special stage rallies, speed events or circuit races.

Going along with those two specialisms, I think it is high time we had a Motorsport Medical Group as well! I would hope this would engender a sense of belonging or comradeship for our own medical / paramedical specialism.

Regardless of speciality, we all have a common desire to provide a high-quality service to improve the safety of competitors, officials and spectators. And to enjoy the craic!

I have been involved in providing medical care for rallying in particular for the past 32 years. In the early days I felt we were very much an “add on” afterthought in the planning process, and that as Chief Medical Officer at that time I tried to advise on some of the safety issues most relevant to our service. I think that helped the quite correct idea that medical people have a role in rally preparation from an early point, rather than simply be there for when it all simply turns upside down! With the fatalities on the Snowman and Jim Clark rallies in recent years, safety planning quite rightly moved up another gear, and medics remain at the heart of that.

It is becoming more difficult to find marshals of all disciplines to cover events, and that includes medics as well. It can be quite tough and stressful for Safety Officers and Chief Medical Officers to muster a team as folk become a bit thin on the ground!

Cue the SMMC Motorsport Medical Group, and our new website motorsportmedics.org.uk

We're in the very early stages of developing this Group, but I think this is a great opportunity for all of those providing medical or paramedical cover to motorsport to get behind this venture and to get on board with a new cohesive force in our service.

How the website will be used and evolve is entirely up to yourselves. On the one hand, I see it as a great tool for events to be publicised and for people to volunteer to be part of the medical team. Recruitment in this regard already happens very effectively with the Motorsport Radio Group.

Beyond that it could be so much more. Promotion of best practice comes to mind through sharing experiences (with due regard for confidentiality) or linking papers or articles we have read. It could also be a notice board for more formal teaching, such as the Knockhill training in December.

It could be a place where members could have a non-personalised moan about anything at all within reason!

I could further see this platform being used as a gateway for more private communication and support, and I for one would be happy to hear of any colleague’s difficulties if they thought I could help.

We know there are some Facebook groups that a number of medics are involved in. This is not designed to replace those. Not everyone uses Facebook, and the new website gives us an opportunity for a wide range of discussion, resource sharing, online learning, and more.

We've started initially with a bank of resources – including quick links to some of the common documentation required for events. We've also added a couple of discussion forums. This is a work in progress… we'll add content that we think will be relevant and useful, but you can also share thoughts and documents yourselves.

The website will be available to colleagues who are not based in Scotland - we welcome input from all interested parties. And although SMMC works with cars and karts rather than bikes, we hope the website will also be used by those who work with two wheels rather than four.

The Motorsport Medical Group is being supported and managed by SMMC, but it is open to any doctor, nurse, paramedic, AHP, members of rescue crew and anyone else that has a genuine interest in sharing best practice and information about medicine and pre-hospital care in a motorsport setting.

I would encourage you to join SMMC though – it's just £15 a year (or £20 for a joint membership), and it will connect you to a community of like-minded people who all enjoy motorsport as well as giving you details of events, links to the Rescue and Radio crews that many of us frequently work with on events, and a range of member benefits and discounts.

So that’s it! Over to you!

John Harrington
Former SMMC Medical Adviser