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For incident-free Safari, medical and safety teams train in Nairobi

TOP: Zimbabwean Dalu Vundla (left) demonstrates how to open a blocked airwave of an injured person to enable normal breathing on Jim Nyamu of Medical Safety Technical Intervention Vehicle volunteers team under the direction of the WRC Safari Rally chief medical officer Dr Raj Jutley at the Safari headquarters training room. ABOVE: Dom Saunders from Motorsport UK moderates the ‘zoom’ seminar conducted by Rupert Hine and Sue Sanders at Safari Rally training room. Pictures/Courtesy PETER NJENGA

TOP: Zimbabwean Dalu Vundla (left) demonstrates how to open a blocked airwave of an injured person to enable normal breathing on Jim Nyamu of the Medical Safety Technical Intervention Vehicle volunteers team under the direction of the WRC Safari Rally chief medical officer Dr Raj Jutley at the Safari headquarters training room. ABOVE: Dom Saunders from Motorsport UK moderates the ‘zoom’ seminar conducted by Rupert Hine and Sue Sanders at the Safari Rally training room. Pictures/Courtesy PETER NJENGA

SAFARI Rally organisers stepped up training of safety managers for the event — between June 24-27 in Kenya — by launching virtual lessons which will later enter into practicals 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 International Motorsport Federation (FIA) and Motorsports UK [United Kingdom] 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.

The Safari Rally chief medical officer Dr Raj Jutley, an open heart surgeon and university professor explains the medical intervention details to participants of the seminar. Picture/Courtesy PETER NJENGA

The Safari Rally chief medical officer Dr Raj Jutley, an open heart surgeon and university professor explains the medical intervention details to participants of the seminar. Picture/Courtesy PETER NJENGA

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.

Participants of the Medical Vehicle Intervention team follow the ‘zoom’ seminar conducted by Rupert Hine from Britain

Participants of the Medical Vehicle Intervention team follow the ‘zoom’ seminar conducted by Rupert Hine from Britain. Picture/Courtesy PETER NJENGA

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.

Members of the Oshwal Rally Team in their rally buggy outside Safari Rally headquarters.

Members of the Oshwal Rally Team beside their rally buggy outside the Safari Rally headquarters, Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi. Picture/Courtesy PETER NJENGA

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.

The same chain will be relayed to the bottom because the rally headquarters is like a military command post. The HQ will monitor the competition on a giant wall screen via the internet which will show the movement of the competitors who are required to press the green button in case of a mechanical breakdown or red if an accident occurs.

The volunteer can also alert his second-in-command should the same fail. This will swing the medical team into action with help coming from the fully equipped Medical Intervention Vehicles, manned by paramedics placed every seven kilometres of the rally route.

The participants later visited the first competitive stage of the 2021 WRC Safari Rally at MISC Kasarani Stadium in the Nairobi northern suburbs.

Another local group is holed at the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) in central Nairobi, for more seminars with other FIA experts, Briton Iain Campbell and Portuguese Joao Passos having toured Naivasha and approved the route.

– Reported by Media Department, WRC Safari Rally Project

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