IRL: IRL's Medical/Safety vehicle has cutting-edge technology

DELPHI-FUNDED MEDICAL/SAFETY COMMAND VEHICLE EQUIPPED WITH CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 19, 2005 -- When Dave Brown says his Chevrolet Tahoe is fully loaded, he's not kidding. He sits in the custom leather seats with the...


INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 19, 2005 -- When Dave Brown says his Chevrolet Tahoe is fully loaded, he's not kidding. He sits in the custom leather seats with the steering wheel-mounted controls for the nine-speaker Bose premium digital sound system at his fingertips. Power-adjustable pedals put the 295 horsepower of the Vortec 5300 V8 engine within easy reach.

It's the wireless, networked laptop computer, four video monitors, satellite TV system with a 360-degree antennae and forward- and rear-facing cameras, among other high-tech gadgetry that sets this vehicle apart from the typical SUV.

As if that's not enough, Delphi, which fully funded the vehicle and its equipment, recently upgraded the SUV with a digital recording device, among other enhancements.

Dave Brown is the track safety coordinator for the Indy Racing League and his new Tahoe Z71 LS serves as the command vehicle for the fleet of medical and safety trucks that comprise the Delphi IRL Safety Team.

For 10 years, the IRL Safety Team has been among the leaders in on-track safety at motorsports events. They are the only motorsports safety team to work at IRL, Formula One, NASCAR and USAC events.

At the beginning of the 2005 IRL season, the team added the Tahoe as the new Command 1 vehicle for the fleet, which consists of three other Chevy trucks.

The electronics that set Command 1 apart from the average SUV are designed to maximize the time and efficiency of safety personnel during an on-track incident.

"Technologically, Delphi has propelled us 10 years ahead of where we were," Brown said.

While Brown and Dr. Henry Bock, senior director of medical services, sit trackside in Command 1 during all IRL events, they listen to the race on Delphi's Roady2 XM Satellite Receiver and they watch ABC/ESPN's clean feed via DIRECTV on the two visor-mounted TV screens. When any type of incident occurs on track, all competitors and safety personnel, including Brown and Bock, are instantaneously notified via a dashboard warning light system. At the sight of the flashing yellow light, Brown activates the strobe lights, puts the SUV into gear and pulls onto the track.

As they speed to the scene, they continue to watch the live TV coverage. The team uses its more than 70 years of combined experience in motorsports safety to work at the scene. If the incident involves an injured driver, the TV replays allow Bock and Brown to anticipate the type and severity of those injuries by reviewing the angle and speed of impact. The installation of the Tivo^Ù system will enhance their ability to review specific scenes.

"We can see what the impact looked like, determine the force and angle, and see if it was front end or rear end," Brown said. "If there are multiple cars, we can get a good feel for which vehicles might be more seriously impacted and what type of injuries we might expect."

As they pull up to the scene, Brown points the vehicle at the wreckage. The forward-facing camera will have the capability to transmit video directly to the infield medical center where a team of doctors and nurses prepare to treat the driver.

The camera records on a VHS recorder, allowing Brown and Bock to review the images later.

Bock exits the SUV with two valuable electronic tools. The first, that will be introduced this month, is a hand-held device that plugs into the race car's dataport. In one second, the device downloads the accelerometer reading from the driver's Delphi earpiece sensors, which measure the g-forces the driver's head experiences on impact.

Bock also is equipped with a wireless microphone. With the push of a button, he communicates directly with the personnel in the infield medical center.

In most incidents, where the driver is alert and walks away from the car under his or her own power, Command 1 is utilized for transporting the driver to the infield medical center.

Once the driver is evaluated and treated, Brown and Bock return to their trackside parking spot.

"The wireless network allows us to look at all of the downloaded data from the entire crash box," Brown said. "If we see a spike in the data that we want to further evaluate, we can review another replay to compare the actual site of the hit to what the recorder is showing. The crash box is loaded onto a highly-secure Internet site, that allows us to further review the data. With this information, we may be able to tell the medical team working on the driver about another possible injury we see on tape that they didn't see.

"Delphi gives doctors and rescue workers the advantage of time as well as the gift of hindsight to help ensure we continue to build the safest environment for drivers and crews," said Bock.


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Series Automotive , IndyCar