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You don't need to be a petrolhead to get involved in, or enjoy being a doctor involved in motorsport, and you will be welcomed and much needed! Almost every motorsport event must be covered by a doctor or a paramedic, backed up by a rescue unit or ambulance. That's a lot of doctors and paramedics, and it's getting harder to find them!
Why should you take up motorsport medicine? First, it's challenging. Most doctors, even working in A&E, get their casualties served up on a spinal stretcher in a well-lit, warm resus room. As a motorsport doctor you may be one of the first at an incident, dealing with a casualty who is still in their car and must be treated while the extraction procedure goes on all round them.
That extraction is the task of the rescue crew, who combine the roles filled on public roads by ambulance and fire service people. In only a few minutes, they can have the roof off a car, the casualty on a spinal board and off to safety and definitive care.
But that doesn't happen often, I'm glad to say. In rallying, hillclimbing or sprinting, you are more likely to spend a day in the open air, in glorious woods or moors, or if the event is at a circuit in less rural but still wide open countryside. You will enjoy the company of some remarkable people, for rescue crews are not shrinking violets, but have enormous characters. And, if that is what you like, but it's just a cherry on the top, you will see some exciting motorsport, from much closer that any member of the public!
Who can become a motorsport doctor? Anyone! Anyone with a full GMC registration and professional indemnity insurance! But I would suggest that you need at least one year of experience in an appropriate specialty, orthopaedics or other surgery, anaesthesia, critical care and A&E are ideal, and you should be an ATLS provider. There are other, more relevant and detailed courses available, such as BASICS http://www.basics.org.uk/ but that is an acceptable start point.
You should register with the Motor Sports Association, that regulates motorsport in the UK, which will send you a copy of the Blue Book, the regulations that govern motorsport including medical matters. See http://www.msauk.org/uploadedfiles/msa_forms/NewOfficialsRegistration2006.pdf
And you should contact an experienced motorsport medic, and ask to go along with them to some events. The MSA doesn't publish a list of motorsport doctors, but ask around in your hospital or practice. Or contact a rescue crew in your area, who are listed on the Volunteers in Motorsport website: http://www.volunteersinmotorsport.co.uk/listman/exec/search.cgi?search=1&perpage=10&lfield3_keyword=rescue&lfield11_keyword=club&template=_search_results_rescue.html
For yes, most officials in motorsport are volunteers. As a doctor, you do get paid, but it';s certainly not in the £100K a year range, more like £100 per event and your fuel costs. But who went into medicine to make money?
I'l be glad to advise anyone who wants to take up motorsport medicine - just click on my name next to this post, and 'Send a message'.