Safari Rally organisers stepped training of safety managers for the event between June 24-27 in Kenya by launching virtual lessons which will later enter into practical on the actual theatre of operation in Naivasha, Nakuru County inside the Great Rift Valley.
Further advanced training of safety and medical personnel for the Safari Rally will move to practical classes next month under the International Motorsport Federation (FIA) and Motorsports UK experts.
But first, it was virtual engagement through ‘zoom’ where Rupert Hine and Sue Sanders from Scotland and England respectively interacted with a group of over 30 local volunteers at Nairobi’s Moi International Sports Centre (MISC), headquarters of the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally.
This was moderated by another Briton, Dom Saunders, who has been in Nairobi since last week. He was assisted by local heads of medical and safety departments — Dr Raj Jutley and Norris Ongalo respectively.
Kenya has developed an elaborate medical and safety master plan using the FIA blueprint to ensure an incident-free Safari Rally — returning to the world championship after 19 years — mitigated by the lessons of a rally accident in 2018 and an unrelated incident involving drink driving near the Safari route a year later.
The FIA attaches primary importance to safety and organisers invest heavily in medical and safety equipment operated by top-notch medical professionals considering the speeds modern rally cars achieve.
Incidentally, the medical team scored the highest marks in the 2019 Safari WRC Candidate Event on the FIA card in part because of the experience of Dr Jutley, an open heart surgeon and veteran of many WRC events including Rally GB (Great Britain) Wales and work with the British military.
Hine said they will fly to Nairobi next month together with Sanders for practical demonstrations on how to extricate accident victims from an old grounded rally car on location using the latest equipment.
Practical lessons from Dr Jutley were aplenty. Under his direction, he impacted the invaluable lesson of ascertaining, and if critical, how to unblock airwaves of an injured accident victim, certainly invaluable knowledge in daily lives incidents, using two volunteers — Zimbabwean Dalu Vundla, and Jim Nyamu a medical safety volunteer in the Technical Intervention Vehicle team.
“Protecting yourself is very important in order to protect others,” said Hine. “Wear strong natural fibre attire like cotton, heavy boots, and gloves. Safety is your pay document, your bible, and the events’ safety plan must be read, understood and ready to be put into use,” he added.
The WRC Safari Rally will purchase the latest extrication equipment like cutters or giant hydraulically operated pliers with jaws to complement what the Kenya Government funds have purchased. “Good stuff but dangerous,” said Hine.
He urged all field volunteers to follow the line of command using the pyramid communication module of starting with the person on the ground up to the next superior until the apex that is the Clerk-of the-Course in matters related to safety and medical.