Medically Speaking

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Doctor Paul Trafford is an intensive care and anaesthetic specialist based at Arrowe Park on the Wirral. He also frequents every TOCA meeting as its designated medical supervisor. He attended to Burt in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Like Riches, he was impressed by the strength of the car. “A lot of people have said that if he had been sat on the left-hand side he would’ve been dead, but I don’t think he would be. There wasn’t that much intrusion into that side; I don’t think bits of the car would have hit him, and I don’t think his seat would’ve been uprooted and crushed against the transmission tunnel.

“The big thing that made the difference between Kelvin walking around now and nearly being ready to get back to racing, and Kelvin being sick on a ventilator having had brain damage, is the seat. But one thing I’ve been talking to Volvo about is whether it would be feasible to make the hole where the straps go through over the shoulders big enough to get your hands though. That way you could actually hold somebody’s neck from behind, which would mean that you wouldn’t get in the way if you had to cut from the front.

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“The accident has taught us that we can dismantle the cars very quickly, and it’s taught us the usefulness of having the teams involved. Peter Riches will bring one of the engineers down to the scene of an accident because the team knows how the car is put together better than we do.

“It’s taught us how difficult it is to get splints, back splints, on people in these cars, and that is something we are going to think about.

“Fortunately, in that situation we had a lot of time to get him out. We knew that he was unconscious, but he was stable and so there was no rush. The worry is how quickly we can get people out if we really have to, and that’s still a concern for us.

“He was having some trouble breathing because the chinstrap was cutting into his airway. We have monitors that check oxygen saturation, which you can just stick on a finger and it will give you a reading straightaway about heart rate and how much oxygen’s getting in.

You can’t put a neck brace on until the helmet’s off, really. Fortunately, the Volvo’s quite a tall car and Kelvin sits very low in it, and so there was room for us to arch his helmet off. If it had been a taller driver we would have just cut the helmet off with an oscillating saw, which is what you cut plaster casts off with.

The Volvo is a big car and there is a lot of room to work in, but other cars have less room and some of the drivers are further behind the B-post, which can make it awkward. The problem is that all the cars are different, and as fast as we look at something, everything changes. But if you compare things to how they were 10 years ago, people are a lot more focused on the safety aspect.”