The radiology team at Silverstone Medical Centre has just moved into the fast lane with the first appearance of a Philips Sparq Ultrasound and Philips Mobile Diagnost wDR at the Formula 1 British Grand Prix.
A consultant radiologist, three radiographers and an ultrasonographer, who all volunteer to work at the world-famous circuit during their spare time, were put to full use over the rain-sodden Grand Prix weekend this July.
The experienced radiology team provided instant medical imaging provision for Formula 1 drivers, crew and almost 300,000 spectators over three days of motor racing. Philips Healthcare provided £500,000 worth of equipment for the event, including the brand new touch-screen Sparq Ultrasound and the latest Mobile Diagnost wDR.
The medical facilities at Silverstone have been transformed over the years from a very basic temporary 2-bedded building to the fully-equipped A&E facility with wards, a 4-bay resuscitation room, burns unit and major treatment room with emergency operating capabilities. Philips Healthcare has donated monitors, defibrillators and ECGs to Silverstone, as well as training staff to operate the latest imaging equipment available.
Operating under strict guidelines from the Formula 1 governing body the FIA, it is essential that the high-performance equipment meets the expectations of the clinical experts ready to treat the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in the event of a high-velocity crash. The radiology team works alongside a neuro-surgeon, cardiothoracic surgeon, anesthetist and emergency medicine consultant.
Dr Ian Roberts, Chief Medical Officer of Silverstone and the British Grand Prix claimed that Silverstone is one of the best medical facilities of any circuit. “Formula 1 is the most fantastic sport and safety has improved immeasurably over the years but we can’t afford to be complacent. The medical team needs to be able to rely on technology whether there is a minor incident or major disaster. Philips has supported us at the Medical Centre for the last 10 years and it makes a huge difference to the quality of care we can give to the patients we treat at Silverstone.”
Katie O’Driscoll, of Philips UK and Ireland, was at Silverstone to check that the team had the equipment they needed. She said: “In emergency medicine - just as in the pit lane – every fraction of a second counts. So it is with particular pride that we have been able to deliver the brand new Philips Sparq Ultrasound and the Philips Mobile Diagnost wDR x-ray system to Silverstone, especially for the Formula 1 British Grand Prix. These systems have been optimised to save time and save lives.”
Ultrasonographer Katy Back explained how the machines could be used. “The main thing for F1 drivers would be ruptured organs, livers or spleens, and internal bleeds,” she said, “ so we can use the Sparq to do FAST scans.” Katy had never used a Philips machine before but felt very confident after just a quick training session. “I really love the touch-screen,” she said. “It’s really intuitive and it’s bound to be more hygienic than other machines. With the traditional systems you can’t clean them while they’re on as you’d change the settings by touching the dials.”
Not many minor injuries would produce a consultant radiologist and orthapaedic surgeon, ready to view the images on the spot but at Silverstone Medical Centre, everyone gets expert treatment, not just the racing drivers.
Within ten minutes of being set up for the Grand Prix, the Philips Mobile Diagnost was x-raying a patient with a suspected broken ankle and fractured wrist. Matthew Rayner, senior radiographer at George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, was impressed. “It was very easy to use and I was able to properly manipulate the image, without any trouble. At last year’s Grand Prix we had to use film, which is so time-consuming. The Mobile Diagnost is so fast even the nurse who brought the patient in said, ‘wow that was quick.’”
Matthew has been a volunteer at Silverstone circuit for several years and appreciates the opportunity to combine his love of motor sports with improving his professional practice. “It can be a real challenge sometimes,” he said. “We are effectively in the middle of nowhere out here. I have been a radiographer for 25 years but at Silverstone we are quite isolated. There is no back-up to ask how to do something and we really have to use our initiative.”
Senior Radiographer Laura Slimm travelled all the way from Princess Elizabeth Hospital in Guernsey to be at the Grand Prix. She has been enjoying the camaraderie amongst the Silverstone medical team since 2001. “ I used to work at Stoke Mandeville where Formula 1 team manager Frank Williams was a spinal patient, “ she recalled, “and that got me interested. You never know who or what is coming in at Silverstone. There are a lot of broken bones and dislocated joints but I have also been here when people have been in full cardiac arrest.”
Jenna Casey, a radiographer and sonographer, also at George Eliot Hospital, managed to catch some of the action from an excellent medics-only vantage point on a grassy bank just alongside the track. “It’s great because we can watch the race but be back at our post within seconds if we are needed. They are tiring days but you feel like you are helping people.” The event was Jenna’s first experience of using the Sparq Ultrasound system and she instantly noticed its innovative features.
“The machine we normally use feels quite bulky, especially in intensive care. It also takes five minutes to warm up. When we need to move it, it takes a while to power it down, unplug it from the wall and log out of PACS. But the Sparq we have been using here is really quick and sleek and you don’t even have to power it down to move it.”
With the torrential rain and parking chaos at the official Marshalls Campsite this year, Laura and Matthew were glad to get into the medical centre at 7am each morning for the start of their 11-hour shift. After a hot shower and a bacon roll, the radiology team, along with more than 100 medical colleagues spent the day catching up with old friends and watching the motor racing but always making sure they were ready for anything.