The Snowman Rally has always been about the competition and the fun, but also always about the safety. From early on we have had a Safety Plan and a Safety Officer.
To start with, the Safety Plan was simply a list of where the stages and the personnel were, but following an incident on the 1994 event, Clerk of the Course John Findlayson and I got together to modernise the document. Along with others working hard on this elsewhere at the time, the Safety procedures we have now began to emerge.
What do we mean by Safety? Every single Marshal, Radio Marshal, Official, Steward, and Stage Commander has to have the safety of each competitor, spectator and colleague uppermost in their mind and behavior at all times.
But what do we do when something does go wrong? Every Special Stage on the rally has a pre- determined number of marshals at pre-determined points. A radio network monitors cars passing through the stage and quickly flags up if someone is out of sequence or in trouble.
At each Stage Start there is a Rescue Unit, a doctor or paramedic and a Recovery Unit. On longer stages those services are provided at mid points to maximise response times.
The Rescue Unit is a vehicle which carries the range of medical equipment you might expect on an ambulance along with extrication equipment to release a trapped casualty. The crew, accompanied by the doctor/paramedic train regularly in extrication and Casualty Care. The Recovery crew help in all this, stabilise the vehicle and look after the scene, and often act as the radio link to keep Rally HQ updated.
Should a competitor require further help the Rescue Unit will rendezvous with the NHS Ambulance for onward transfer to hospital. All the Emergency Services are notified or involved in event planning.
Thankfully, the vast majority of events take place with no major incidents whatsoever and after the stage is closed, these crews sweep the stage ensuring all is well. This is the Recovery Unit’s busiest time collecting the “offs” and bringing them safely out of the stage.
The image shows the start of the Carbisdale stage in 2011, with the Start crew, Radio car, Rescue| Unit, Recovery Unit and Medical Car.