MSA-licensed Rescue personnel provide immediate medical and extrication facilities at the scene of an incident. They move around venues aboard Motorsport UK licensed Rescue Units, which are kitted out with the latest medical and extrication equipment.
Meanwhile Recovery personnel retrieve stricken rally cars, operating from Motorsport UK licensed Recovery Units fitted with vehicle recovery equipment.
To obtain a Trainee licence you will first need to gain the support of a current Motorsport UK licensed unit and then complete Motorsport UK’s New Officials Registration form, which must be returned to the Motorsport UK Membership Services Team with a supporting letter from the unit operator.
You will then be sent your Trainee Licence and the relevant Training Module.
Charley Webber has been a Motorsport UK licensed rescue crew member for more than 20 years, having first become involved in the sport as a marshal. His officiating background is predominantly in rallying, and he currently sits on the Motorsport UK Rescue Panel.
“Any Motorsport UK sanctioned motor sport event in the UK will, if required, need to have a licensed rescue crew and vehicle on-site. Essentially, we provide rescue and medical facilities, mainly for competitors, in case the worst should happen and somebody is hurt or trapped in a car following an incident.
“We work with either a doctor or paramedic, and we carry fire extinguishers and a wide range of equipment, similar to what you’d find on a frontline ambulance if you dialled 999. Should a competing driver or crew have an accident and be unlucky enough to become trapped in their car it will be our job to treat them for any injuries they may have and then extricate them from the car, which could even mean cutting the car apart using mechanical shears; in that respect we do a similar job to what the fire service does on the road. But this can be on a race circuit or deep into a forest on a rally a long way from civilisation.
“Different members of the rescue crew have different roles, but usually everybody is medically trained to a standard whereby they can provide first aid at the scene and aid the doctor or paramedic.
“The principle of the role is essentially the same between disciplines such as race and rally. The difference is that at a race circuit you can usually get to the scene very quickly, and in fact there’s a target response time of 90 seconds. But there isn’t a response time on a rally; the guideline is that there should be one vehicle at the start of a stage, and if the stage is over nine miles long there will be another vehicle at a mid-point. Then there’s the fact that the vehicles you can be dealing are often very different, for example a single-seater at a race event compared to a rally car.
“If you want to try your hand at rescuing you can either contact Motorsport UK for a list of local rescue units, or join their local motor club, which will also point you in the direction of your nearest unit. You then need to get in touch the crew chief, who will either take you out to observe the unit on an event or, if you’ve already been out marshalling and gained some experience, invite you straight to a training day. In fact I’d say that if you’re a complete novice the ideal thing to do would be to attend a marshal’s training day first and marshal at a few events first to get a better idea of how they’re run.
“If the crew chief is satisfied that you’re the right sort of person for the job he’ll supply a letter of endorsement to accompany your Motorsport UK New Officials Registration form, which you need to fill out. As long as Motorsport UK is happy it will issue a trainee licence, and when you’ve got that you’re free to go out on a rescue unit. You have to attend a number of training days and within a three-year period, once the crew chief is happy that you’ve done all the relevant training and you’ve got all the signatures from your various training days, you can make yourself available for an assessment.
“You’ll be assessed on all medical and rescue matters and will probably have to tackle a live scenario as well, where you’ll have to demonstrate your knowledge of treating injured competitors and extricating them using the appropriate equipment. All the while you’ll be watched by a Motorsport UK assessor and normally a doctor or paramedic. If you’re successful, another letter will be sent to Motorsport UK and a full licence will be issued. The training doesn’t stop there, though, and once you have a full licence you’ll have to pass another assessment every three years to make sure your skills are up to date.
“In terms of the characteristics that make for a good rescue crew member, you obviously have to be a team player and you need to be able to take commands from the crew chief and act on them. You need good people skills and also an ability to put up with sitting in a rescue vehicle for long periods of time doing absolutely nothing, because actually that’s the best case scenario; a good day for us I a quiet day. But when the what’s-it hits the spinny thing, you’ve got to get out there and do an incredibly important job.
“I love being part of a rescue crew because I love my motor sport, and it’s my way of getting more involved and becoming part of it. I also love helping people, and I’m passionate about the vehicles that I run. Being a good crew member is not just about enjoying the event; it’s about enjoying being part of the crew, looking after your vehicle and your equipment, and even fundraising to buy new equipment. We’re a weird bunch, I must admit!”