Drivers and crew members participating in the UAW-GM Quality 500 Week events Oct. 8-11 at Charlotte Motor Speedway hope they do not need the services provided by emergency personnel. But if they do, a staff of highly trained fire and medical professionals are ready for action.

When NASCAR or ARCA officials dispatch the safety and medical crews to the scene of an on-track accident, they are in position within seconds and quickly assess the situation. The drivers involved are then transported via ambulance to the Carolinas HealthCare System Infield Care Center and, in a short time, most emerge for the obligatory media interviews. But what happens while the drivers are in the Care Center?

Carolinas HealthCare System is the official healthcare provider for Charlotte Motor Speedway and staffs the infield facility with six doctors and two nurses during each event. The medical facility, located under the scoring stand in turn four, operates very much like a hospital emergency room.

Upon arrival, a driver is evaluated and examined by a nurse and a doctor¿an appropriate specialist if necessary. Specialists on hand normally include a cardiologist, burn specialist and plastic surgeon. In order to maintain continuity in treatment, the same doctors staff the Carolinas HealthCare System Infield Care Center each race week.

After being examined, the driver is either released or transported to an area hospital for further evaluation and treatment. The Care Center doctors determine which local hospital should receive the driver. University Hospital, located just a few miles south of the speedway, and NorthEast Medical Center north of the speedway in Concord, are the primary options. If an air transport is necessary, the choice is Carolinas Medical Center in the heart of Charlotte.

But the Carolinas HealthCare System Infield Care Center isn't just for the competitors.

"Only about two to three percent of our patients are competitors," said Norrie Baird, emergency services director at Charlotte Motor Speedway. ¿Most of the patients treated by emergency personnel are race fans.

"We're likely to treat about 175 patients during an October race weekend," Baird explained. "In the past, a high percentage of those were treated for heat-related problems, but that number will drop considerably this year with all three events being run at night.¿

Baird added that treatments are common for falls, burns and general illnesses among race fans.

In addition to the Carolinas HealthCare System Infield Care Center staff, the personnel who make up Lowe¿s Motor Speedway¿s Emergency Services Department during race events include:

3 dispatchers
21 firefighters (7 trucks of 3 each)
2 to 4 medical personnel each on 20 ambulances
14 people serving on 7 wreckers
15 clean-up crew members
60 pit-road firefighters
7 paramedics assigned to the on-track action
14 paramedics assigned to the grandstands
14 paramedics on suite level
2 quick-response units
4 bicycle teams
14 golf-cart (mini-ambulance) teams
30 firefighters assigned to the grandstands

There are also three First Aid stations throughout the facility, each staffed with a doctor and a nurse, and a Carolinas HealthCare System Outfield Care Center which is staffed much like the infield facility. Two ambulances will be on call 24 hours a day Thursday through Saturday, with the number increasing for the overnights on Friday and Saturday.

Tickets of each of the UAW-GM Quality 500 Week events are still available and can be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.