WEDNESDAY, MAY 7: An expanded fleet of 17 First Intervention Vehicles (FIVs) and 40 medical staff and fire fighters have been assembled for the Emergency Services Department operating in next week's Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.
The Department's preparation for the May 13-18 rally includes a training session today at Baskerville Raceway, near Hobart, where personnel will practice responding to simulated incidents and rescues and undertake driving lessons under conditions they will encounter during the 44 competition stages.
Department Manager Tony Harris said the safety plan and procedures put in place for this year's Targa rally were the most comprehensive and detailed since the event began in 1992.
"There will be close to 300 cars on the roads at any one time during Targa, plus officials and thousands of spectators close by so safety is a top priority," said Harris.
"This event is unique because it covers such a wide area, and our planning has to be thorough because we may have to react to any number of different situations at short notice."
"We have an excellent safety record in Targa, but we are always trying to improve and this is one reason why we have added some more FIV vehicles this year."
Harris said the FIV fleet had been increased from 15 in the 2002 event to 17 vehicles this year. Of those, 12 will have a trained paramedic and fire fighter in each, and the other five will also carry light hydraulic rescue equipment.
"This year there will be two FIVs at the start of most stages, plus another in the middle of the longer stretches of road," said Harris.
"The extra vehicles will give us better coverage and in the event of an accident we can be on the scene quicker."
Harris said that the initial task for FIV crews at accident sites was to administer immediate management and stabilisation of injuries if required.
"Our paramedics and fire fighters are fulltime professionals and they are trained to deal with the initial medical or rescue requirements of anyone needing help," he said.
Harris said the Department's training included personnel being instructed on driving in timed stages, and positioning of signs to warn oncoming competitors of incidents.
"We teach crews cornering and braking techniques, which are different to what you use on open roads, plus where to place the warning signs on the course to minimise disruptions and delays to competitors," he said.
"We also do some cross-training, teaching the paramedics how to use fire extinguishers and so forth, and showing the fire fighters how to assist in basic medical procedures."
Harris said that in the event of serious injuries the Tasmanian Ambulance Service or the Hobart-based State Rescue Helicopter would transport patients to hospitals.
Targa operations manager Ken Roddam said about 2,000 volunteer marshals oversaw spectator safety control during the event.
He said there could be up to 100 marshals operating on stages where competition was held in residential areas, such as in the Temco Prologue in George Town and at Longford.
"We have clearly-marked areas where spectators can and can't stand, and they are generally co-operative," said Roddam.
"These marshals are given training before the event, and they also come under the control of a stage commander."
All accidents and any injuries during the event are immediately reported to the Targa Command Centre, where Clerk of Course Tom Snooks is based, and he is informed of any treatment carried out.
Entries in Targa have increased to 267, including six-times champion Jim Richards, and Tasmanian navigator Barry Oliver in a Porsche 911, and multiple Bathurst 1000 winner Peter Brock and V8 Supercar star Steven Richards in works-supported V8 Holden Monaros. Other contenders include Nissan Skyline GTR drivers Jason White of Tasmania, and South Australia's Steve Glenney, and Queensland's Tony Quinn and Victorian Jeff Beable in Porsche 911s.
This year's rally will be contested over a total distance of 2,299km, with 464km competitive, plus the Temco Prologue.
The four competitions in Targa are Shannons Historic (for cars from 1900-46), Shannons Touring Classic (1947-65), Classic (1900-81), and Modern (1982-2003). There is also a new non-competition Shannons Tour class for rare and exotic historic and classic cars.