If there’s anything the late model crash we posted this week really shows, it’s why you should let the response team do their jobs. As some have pointed out, the first two people to arrive at the car weren’t part of the response team at all. They were a pit steward for the series and a member of the driver’s pit crew.
I relied a bit too much on DrivenWheels’ account of the late model crash at the Wenatchee Valley Super Oval in the initial write-up, and they got this one highly important detail wrong. Of course these two weren’t dressed properly to handle a fire, and moved a guy who shouldn’t have been moved that much at all. They’re not part of the fire and rescue team and shouldn’t have been there in harm’s way.
Fortunately, the two members of the fire response team reached out to me to set the record straight. Steven and Brian Donaglia are the two professionals who arrived to the scene in the black and blue firesuits. They’ve been working at the track for six years, and they’re the ones who know what they’re doing.
It only took them thirty seconds to get out there, which is pretty good considering that the response vehicles have to dodge cars all around the track en route.
According to Steve, the fire wasn’t serious enough to move driver Shane Mitchell. As you can see in the video, it didn’t take long for it to be put out. Had they been allowed to take over the rescue, they likely would have kept him in there to avoid aggravating any potential back injuries and may have opted to cut him out of the car instead.
Mitchell kept wanting to stand once he was out of the car, which made trying to handle the issue a bit hairier. One of the brothers on the fire team had to keep trying to keep him immobile. Complicating matters further were the man on the other side of the fence and another person trying to fight the fire from the other side of the car, which blew more of the firefighters’ spray back at the fire crew than was necessary.
Moral of the story here? Let the rescue professionals do their jobs. While it’s tempting to step in and try to be a hero if you’re close, the rescue team has the proper training, gear and tools to handle these situations, and getting in the mix will often do more harm than help.
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