Rachel Medich, from Carlisle, is a volunteer for the EMMU - Emergency Mobile Medical Unit - rescue team who attend many sporting events throughout the year, including several rallies. They have recently returned from providing vital rescue cover for the Rally Isle of Man, a round of the MSA British Rally Championship. Rachel kept a diary during the event to give an insight into rallying from a rescue crews' point of view...
Thursday 9 July
The start of the trip! It was with excitement at going away that I left an unusually sunny Carlisle to head to Morecambe to meet with the rescue unit. I've been a member for four years and I thoroughly enjoy it. I was quite shocked to discover that people don't realise the crew of a rescue unit are volunteers. The unit receives an attendance fee but the crew do not receive anything and it often costs us to attend events! As I also compete as a co-driver being able to give something back to the sport I love is enough of a reward for me though.
The volunteers come from all kinds of background, I work in operating theatre anaesthetics but there are also nurses, firemen, joiners and engineers on the units. We all must attend regular training and hold at the very least a basic life support qualification along with being able to use and manage the hydraulic tools used in vehicle extrication.
There are three levels of rescue unit personnel - trainee, fully licensed and crew chief. To become a fully licensed member of the team a trainee must attend a set number of training weekends and then pass a very thorough assessment which ensures they are capable of using the hydraulic tools and looking after the medical needs of a patient under the supervision of a doctor or paramedic. I passed my assessment on the Rally Isle of Man in 2008 and was a very happy lady! The 2009 event was to be the first anniversary of me qualifying.
We were sailing from Heysham to Douglas and boarded the boat after collecting the ambulance from its Morecambe home. Once aboard the journey passed fairly quickly as all the rescue unit crew on the boat congregated on the top deck for a chat. On arrival on the island it was straight to the TT Grandstand for us to get radios fitted and then on to the medical briefing where we discover which stages we will cover and other safety information.
As our allocated stage on Friday was to begin at midday we retired to the Queens pub on the promenade to meet up with other medical personnel, catch up on all the gossip and talk about the event - we all decided that we preferred the three-day format with some evening stages on Thursday night so please can we have that again next year!
Friday 10 July
Friday morning dawned and after a hearty breakfast both crews of the EMMU team headed into Douglas for a quick look around and to spend some money. After that myself and the other two members of EMMU 2 made our way over to the start of the Newtown stage to cover the first eight or so miles. As the stage was the longest of the event at 21 miles it required three units spaced at regular intervals. The longest stage one unit can cover is nine miles, any longer and you need a midpoint, or in this case two midpoints!
When we arrived at the start we had a look at the safety plan and identified any short cuts to further parts of the stage plus any potentially tricky areas. We then had a quick look at the tools and ensured they were working and showed our trainee for the weekend, Nigel, what we would require should the worst happen. We than had a quick meeting about who would perform what role in the event of an incident, and had a quick procedural run down. Our rationale being that if we do that, we won't need it!
The cars arrived bang on time and came into the control. Our crew chief then decided it was time to unleash the team mascot, Emu! Emu was happily providing start line entertainment, with the likes of Mark Higgins trying to grab him and take him through the stage. Then came a call to stop the stage and we went immediately went into standby mode but it was quickly declared that the crew were out and okay although the car was blocking the road. As more and more International crews arrived it was decided to send them through non-competitively and re-route them to the next stage. The Challenge and Historic rally competitors all got a run through and luckily had no problems.