The California 500: medical care at a NASCAR Winston Cup race

Jeff T Grange, Gregory W Baumann
Prehospital Emergency Care 2002, 6 (3): 315-8

BACKGROUND: Stock car racing is America's fastest-growing professional sport. With more than 5.5 million paid admittances and another 148 million watching the 34-race NASCAR Winston Cup series on television, emergency physicians are increasingly called upon to organize medical support for such events. Currently, little reliable information is available to assist in determining what specific personnel and equipment are necessary to optimally support a race event.

OBJECTIVE: To characterize the spectrum of presenting injuries and illnesses at a NASCAR Winston Cup event.

METHODS: This study was a retrospective review of all patients presenting to nine on-site first aid stations from June 19 to 22, 1997, for the inaugural California 500 race weekend at California Speedway in Fontana, California. Staffing of the nine first aid stations was provided by 20 paramedics, 25 emergency nurses, five emergency physicians, nine advanced life support (ALS) ambulances with two crew members each, and a medically configured helicopter with flight crew.

RESULTS: Of the 923 patients seen, 38 were drivers/crew, 230 were track employees, and 644 were spectators. One hundred thirty-six of the patients were treated in the two infield facilities, while 787 were treated in the grandstand first aid stations. Patients seen per hour peaked just before the start of the race at 73 patients seen. Of the ten patients transported to the hospital, three required admission. No deaths occurred.

CONCLUSION: These data may assist individuals planning medical support for large motorsports venues.

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