Some twenty West Australian doctors are undertaking a unique emergency medical training session as part of preparations for next weekend's Telstra Rally Australia.

The exercise involves simulating a car crash in remote bush, with doctors using state-of-the-art equipment to treat 'patients'. The purpose of the exercise is to refine emergency procedures for Rally Australia which, with this and other initiatives, is striving to lead the way with competitor safety. This particular training session will focus on extracting patients from vehicles and acute trauma management - something which was brought to the fore by Colin McRae's Corsica smash.

"Many doctors have minimal experience in dealing with patients at the scene of an accident - they usually first treat patients after they've been dealt with by ambulance officers and emergency workers," said Dr Rob Radici, chief medical officer with Telstra Rally Australia.

"The skills involved will differ - and in any emergency, prompt and appropriate medical care at the scene of an accident can be the difference between life and death. The idea behind the exercise is to develop their emergency skills, in case they should be required during the rally."

The training session is being held at the Centre for Anaesthesia Skills and Medical Simulation (CASMS), at the University of Western Australia. Each scenario will be video and audio taped, to be replayed as part of debriefings after each event, and a computerised manikin, which can simulate the effects of trauma and other medical emergencies on a human patient, will also be a part of the training session. The doctors involved will only have access to the medical equipment they will use in the field.

The session will enable the Rally's medical management team to refine their trauma management skills and identify any shortcomings in their equipment prior to the rally.

As a part of the event's preparations, rescue crews will also visit each team workshop to identify the structural differences between the various rally cars. During their visits, team engineers will brief crew members on specific details, such as the location of fuel lines, to ensure that competitors can be extracted from their vehicles in a safe but speedy manner.

Telstra Rally Australia - starting in Perth on 9 November - is the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship, and sees four drivers - McRae among them - start with a chance of lifting the crown at the end of the year.