Canadian Grand Prix | And we heal at the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit!

The track hospital is ready! Doctors and nurses have recreated real emergencies on the edge of the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit. They are ready to treat pilots who have suffered serious accidents, as well as spectators suffering from heat stroke or alcohol intoxication.

Posted at 5:00 am

Emilie Bilodeau

Emilie Bilodeau
The press

“We treat everyone,” says paramedic François Scarborough, co-director of the route hospital. “For practical reasons, smaller cases are sent to the public clinic, but if someone has a heart attack, we bring them here,” explains the Canadian Grand Prix volunteer for fifteen years.

The paramedic is surrounded by a large team from the Sacré-Coeur hospital: nurses, respiratory therapists, anesthesiologists, orthopedists, neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons… They set up a resuscitation room in the Pirelli tower – an exact replica – of the past, the race started at the exit of the hairpin .

“The number of people we treat is very dependent on temperature,” says Dr.right Scarborough as he dons a fireproof suit to check his size.

There are many people who have heart or lung problems. Their condition is usually stable, but when the temperature of the track rises to 40C, sometimes to 50C when it’s hot, and when hydrated with Molson, some decompress.

The Dright François Scarborough, emergency doctor

The doctors and nurses at the makeshift hospital all remember the death of a worker in 2013. The Formula 1 race had just ended, spectators left Île Notre-Dame but the volunteer was hit by a tow truck. He was transported to the field hospital and then helicoptered to Sacré-Coeur, where he was pronounced dead.


Intervention of the medical team in 2013. One volunteer died in an accident after the race.

The Dright Circuit hospital co-director Pierre Fiset also mentions the cardiac arrest of Formula 1600 driver and RDS presenter Didier Schraenen in 2010. The latter collapsed in the pits. “He was transported by helicopter to Sacré-Coeur, where a cardiologist was waiting for him. He had an electrocardiogram, a coronagraph, they put stents on him [endoprothèses] and hello visit! He fell at 11:15 a.m. and was out again at 1:15 p.m.,” says the anesthetist, who is enthusiastic about Formula 1.

I think it was Stéphane Laporte who said that this is the best place to get sick during the Grand Prix weekend. There is no waiting for a doctor’s visit.

The Dright Pierre Fiset, anesthetist

The fact is that Formula 1 drivers are rarely treated by doctors at the weekend. “Where we’re likely to have more work is in the small formulas, the secondary races [Coupe Nissan Sentra, Challenge Ferrari, F1600] “, specifies the Dright Fiset. Enrollment has increased this year after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, he notes. The drivers are also less experienced than in Formula 1 and their vehicles are less safe.

No race without a helicopter

In addition to the volunteers mobilized in the field hospital and in the public clinic, five medical teams are stationed at the supply pits. Of saves are also scattered around the track. They are the only specialists trained to remove a driver from his Formula 1 car in the event of an accident.

“Do you want to see a formation of? rescue ? Get in my car,” starts us all from go the Dright Fiset, who still has to answer a thousand and one questions from volunteers. The Doctor drives along the Olympic Basin and stops in front of a small brown building. In it, about thirty people (doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists) practice immobilizing a pilot, removing his helmet without moving his neck and recovering him from his cockpit using harnesses. The seat serves as a back wall.

In the afternoon of Thursday, officials from the International Automobile Federation (FIA) also checked and timed their maneuvers. Doctors and nurses also participated in two simulations throughout the day. They had time to practice loading a stretcher into a helicopter.

Photo courtesy of CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal

A team practices transporting a person for a helicopter transfer.

“A helicopter is always needed on site, otherwise the races will be completely canceled,” explains Michael Pilote, chief pilot at Airmedic. So we have a helicopter on site and another one in Saint-Hubert. As soon as a patient boards the helicopter, the one in Saint-Hubert takes off to replace the first, so there’s never any disclosure. »

It is the FIA ​​that requires the presence of a rescue helicopter, stresses the Dright Scarborough. “Transporting a heavy case on the road would be unimaginable. More than 100,000 people live on Île Notre-Dame. It would be dangerous and it would lead to too long delays,” explains the man nicknamed Scarby by his peers.

And finally, Doctors, who will win the Grand Prix? The heart of the two doctors beats for the Monegasque Charles Leclerc.

“But I don’t really care who wins,” clarifies the Dright Fiset. Me, that’s what I like, being with all this gang, this gang of really devoted people. »

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