Emergency Crews Prepare for Race Weekend at Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville, VA-- The Martinsville Speedway is gearing up for a big event early. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the first weekend of April, and they're already doing major preparations.
Fire and EMS crews have been training all weekend, practicing in case of emergencies. Instructors were preparing crews for every possible emergency situation. They say the best way to do this is hands on practice, making sure they're ready for the big race weekend.
The Martinsville Speedway may look pretty empty right now, but in a couple of weeks, it'll be packed with tens of thousands of fans and several drivers.
With so many people, EMS instructors say several emergencies are bound to happen.
"Every race, something happens, and that's not excluding what goes on in the grand stands," said Jim Thompson, Training Instructor.
During race weekend, there will be more than 100 fire fighters and 22 EMS providers, ready to respond to driving accidents. So it is critical to start training for these real life scenarios early.
"We have a fire pit that we've set up to stimulate a car fire, we're doing a vehicle extraction, we're doing an injured crewman, so if one of the crew members gets injured on the pitside of the wall, then they'll know to bring them back," said Jimmy Ussury, Fire Chief and Training Instructor.
Instructors say although their personnel are experienced, this isn't like their everyday job.
"What you do on the streets as a firefighter or paramedic is utterly different a lot of times on the race track. We're using different equipment, we're using different extinguishing agents on the fires and so they have to be proficient at those," said Ussury.
Drills like this ensure these guys are ready for anything.
"Let them feel how to do this, videos are good and a book is good but hands on has been the best way to train," Thompson said.
The emergency crews who are training this weekend are from all over the region.
EMS personnel will also have another training session on how to respond to emergencies in the grand stands.