'Jaws of Life' donated to island motor sport

'Jaws of Life' donated to island motor sport

A collaboration between the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), two British safety experts and the organisers of last year's Race Of Champions at Bushy Park has resulted in a valuable legacy for island motor sport - the donation of specialist 'Jaws of Life' equipment, which will be available to all BMF Member Clubs and deployed for the first time at next Sunday's (March 15) Motoring Club of Barbados Inc Spring Blaze.

The equipment has been donated by the Emergency Mobile Medical Unit (EMMU), which is based in Lancashire on the north-west coast of England, and was handed over to the BMF in December by EMMU's founder Stuart Westbrook, who also undertook training sessions during his visit to the island. EMMU provides medical support and rescue cover, not only for motor sport but also other hazardous sports, such as powerboat racing.

ROC's Safety Officer Sue Sanders has become a familiar face in island motor sport in the last two years, having conducted Senior Officials training sessions for the BMF, also advised on safety and related procedures for Sol Rally Barbados. On her ROC site visit last September, Sanders started the ball rolling on the Jaws of Life project: "I was aware from my first visit that there are limited resources to call on in the island, so decided that the arrival of Race Of Champions might prove to be a useful catalyst.

"British rescue units tend to upgrade their equipment on a rolling programme and I knew that EMMU had recently upgraded theirs, looking to either sell their existing equipment, or donate it to a worthwhile cause. When Stuart dropped in for a coffee on his way south from Lancashire, I posed the question . . . he said 'yes', so off we set."

BMF Vice-President John Sealy says: "Naturally, we were delighted with Stuart Westbrook's generous donation, but the equipment is only truly worthwhile with trained personnel. So, we worked with the ROC organisers to share the costs of Stuart coming to the island to conduct training sessions."

The Jaws of Life equipment, manufactured by Holmatro, can cut through competition roll cages and roof-supporting pillars of a race or rally car without creating sparks, a vital factor in protecting anyone trapped in the vehicle. The new equipment will be maintained and operated by members of the privately-funded Roving Response Team (RRT), already well-known in the motor sport fraternity, on both race track and rally stage.

Sanders said: "Thanks to the involvement of John Sealy of the BMF, we agreed that the equipment would be available across all motor sport. He arranged training for the RRT, along with observers from the Fire Service." Sealy added: "I must thank Crane & Equipment, whose premises at Lower Estate we used for our sessions, Denis Lashley, Vice-President of the RRT, Station Officer Gordon Boxill who co-ordinated the Barbados Fire Service personnel and who conducted fire training for the marshals, also Simon Gillmore of SRG Engineering, who donated two former race cars. This was important, as they had roll cages, a key element of the training."

After the two half-day training sessions, Westbrook said: "The training went well within the given time and the RRT fellows were very enthusiastic. They had a lot of sound vehicle knowledge and related to the application of the hydraulic equipment and what could be achieved with it. Having the Fire Service in attendance added another dimension, as we made them more aware of competition car make-up and build."

Westbrook also handed over a number of training booklets, assessment forms and DVDs to the BMF, which will be used in on-going training, conducted locally. He added: "Importantly, RRT now understands the equipment and all the checks that need to be carried out and recorded, also how to store and operate it safely."

In addition to the equipment, ROC raised the issue of protective clothing for volunteers, as the organisers require all trackside marshals to wear fire-proof overalls. Sanders explained: "Initially, the marshals were sceptical, no doubt concerned over them being too hot, but once the Dickies Lightweights were trialled, everyone loved them. Bushy Park Circuit Inc has subsequently bought them from ROC."