Case study: James Short
Job title: Specialist Motorsports Paramedic – Freelance
Entry route: DipHE Paramedic Science
How I got the role
I've always been fascinated by motorsport, the speed, the noise, the excitement. I grew up watching the Lombard RAC Rally with my father and tinkering under old cars. I had a change of career in my early twenties which led to a fulltime role as a Paramedic with an NHS Trust. The spark of motorsport, however, still smouldered.
Prior to gaining my registration, whilst as an IHCD Technician, I approached my local Motorsport UK registered rescue unit to see if there was a way I could combine my medical knowledge with something different and reignite that spark.
They were delighted and my path into motorsports medicine and rescue was set. I joined them initially as a Rescue Trainee and now as a qualified rescue crewman, I provide a primary paramedic response in the event of injury or illness at motorsports events across the UK.
Are you studying or working towards another role at the moment?
I have completed my Rescue license, a two-year practical apprenticeship covering extrication, cutting, crew resource management, firefighting and medical assessment. This requires a combination of structured training days alongside on the job experience under more experienced licensed staff. Academically I am also embarking upon a Post Graduate Certification in Critical Care to allow me to increase my decision-making capability with the aim to move into a critical care role within my full time NHS Trust role.
What I do
Every event starts with a crew briefing and equipment check. Motorsport UK mandates that a licensed rescue unit must be present at any event. These voluntary units have at least two Motorsport UK registered rescue staff and a qualified, registered and accredited Paramedic or Doctor aboard. Depending upon the type of event, more than one rescue unit may be required. These units function not just as firefighting and extrication vehicles but are also fully registered Ambulances that are able to transport patients either to an RVP point or in some circumstances direct to hospital.
Once the equipment is checked and a briefing undertaken with the rescue crew then I'll liaise with the Circuit Medical Officer or Clerk of the Course to discuss any competitors with underlying healthcare issues, new drivers or issues with the course as well as discussing previous incidents the event may have faced and how we can mitigate these issues going forward.
Then it's time to deploy with my assigned rescue unit. In the event of an incident we aim to have a unit on scene within 90 seconds of an emergency call from a driver or marshal. A Safe Scene is created, rapid triage is then undertaken, and an ETHANE message is passed to the Clerk of the Course allowing the organizers to notify the relevant emergency services. Patients are treated, stabilized and extricated before being handed over for further care.
The best bits
I work in a wide array of motorsport settings, from entry level sprints up to high level international meetings, seeing all this without paying a penny. My work is unpredictable, I can go for a run of events on standby or I can have a multi incident event. No day is the same. In addition, working with a variety of people from all walks of life is interesting and the camaraderie of motorsport is fantastic.