Public safety is a subject that has been mentioned now and again at various commission meetings and in the media. The commissioners have a serious interest in public safety and need their questions answered. Some members of the public who oppose the circuit, however, are using the subject as a scare tactic. The floodplain was discussed, the pipelines were discussed, the pollution was discussed, the noise was discussed, and public safety was discussed. Some of these subjects have been put to sleep.
The HVL and natural gas pipelines were one of the first subjects that made the headlines. FTP and their specialists met with industry representatives and devised a plan that would eliminate any concerns about the safety of the pipelines. The end result is that the pipelines will be relocated and the specification in use today will bring a much safer installation.
The next concern was the floodplain. Citizens and commissioners alike were worried that the construction and other developments at the site would worsen the flood probabilities. That is a fair concern, but once again the specialists have found a way to engineer these concerns away.
According to the floodplain map below, included in the CLOMR exhibits, the footprint of the area included in the floodplain will shrink after this development is complete. This is due to some improvements that will allow the water to flow naturally rather than being backed up on the site. A 100 year floodplain, by definition, has a 1% probability of flooding. This is a level of risk the promoters are comfortable with. And, the threat to the public offsite will be reduced.
Both of these engineering approaches brilliantly solved these areas of concern. Very good work, guys.
The public safety issues cannot simply be engineered away. There are some engineering solutions that would help improve movement of emergency vehicles to and from the area, but for the most part, public safety is mostly a management issue.
There has been little public discussion about the specifics of the safety plan, but I am confident that this issue will not be a stumbling block for the project. The city and county handles large events like Longhorn games routinely. If anyone has any insight on that subject, please share them with us. I am not familiar with the local solution.
However, I know a lot about how the FIA handles public safety, security, and medical emergencies at the circuits themselves.
First, the FIA requires the appointment of a Chief Medical Officer who is responsible for all on-track activities as stated in their regulations:
The Chief Medical Officer is responsible for the recruitment, implementation, operation and running of the rescue services and evacuation. Consequently, all the medical and paramedical personnel, including those recruited directly or indirectly by the ASN, are affected by his decisions. The organizers are obliged to provide him with all the material and administrative means necessary for the performance of his duties.
Typically, F1 has two medical teams onsite. There is a team devoted to the on-track action and a team devoted to the off-track spectators.
The Spectator Medical Service generally consists of 15 doctors, 30 paramedics, and about 100 other medical professionals. They are scattered about the circuit in a dozen or so stations and take care of routine and exceptional medical events that often occur when 100,000+ people gather.
The Track Medical Service is comprised of 25 or so doctors many of which are specialists or consultants in anesthesiology, surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, emergency physicians, and radiology. It also includes approximately 100 paramedics and 12 ambulance drivers. The large numbers are required so that they can be stationed around the circuit and be to an accident location as soon as possible.
The medical teams also make contact with local hospitals and pre-arrange for transport to their facilities if necessary. Transport is usually via two helicopters stationed at the circuit. The plan must also provide a road route to the agreed upon hospitals that allows transport in no more than 45 minutes.
There is also a permanent emergency medical center on site. It has the facilities to perform almost any type of emergency surgery and the personel to do so. Below is a typical F1 medical center.
The Chief Medical Officer must coordinate the circuit’s entire medical efforts with the efforts of the local authorities. He has a parallel medical cohort in the FIA. Together they are to synchronize the efforts between the community and the promoters of the event.
I am confident that Austin will come up with a suitable plan. No large scale events have better onsite medical emergency preparations than an F1 race. Couple that with a robust public sector plan, and this concern should melt away. However, this plan is dependent on a suitable traffic management plan.
The fire response team is equally prepared to deal with fires, but they are geared to fight fires in the pits, where fuel is stored, and on track if there is a car fire. Their training does not include building fires, but many are professional firefighters. As a result, the facility fire protection is generally left up to local authorities. In the event of a facility fire, the event would be red flagged and the event fire teams would be available to assist. The fire control plan outlines the areas of responsibility. The basic nature of a formula one facility confines the fire risks, to some degree, to the pit and paddock area.
Security is a subject that is not talked about openly. Typically Formula 1 promoters utilize a professional security contractor to comprehensively manage the site plan. Local security professionals, both public and private, are involved in formulating the plan, as well as the execution.
I guess the bottom line is that public safety is a very big concern for everyone involved. However, proper management can limit the risk faced by all involved.
Total project management of an F1 event is a very difficult task; there are many things that must come together. In some ways it is a bit like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, only there’s no magic here, just hard work.