Nurses call on F1 pit crew to help save lives

The high-speed choreography of pit stops could improve efficiency when resuscitating newborns

Nurses call on F1 pit crew to help save lives

Williams Crew | Image: Mark Schiefelbein / AP/Press Association Images

Doctors and nurses at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff are being trained by the Williams Formula One pit crew in the hope of fine-tuning the resuscitation of premature newborn babies.

The Formula One team is the slickest so far this season, changing four tyres in just two seconds.

A neonatal care specialist at the hospital Dr Rachel Hayward approached the team after realising that vital seconds were being lost in treating babies with breathing problems.

Speaking to Sky News she said the F1 team initially couldn't see how they would be able to help save lives.

She explained to them: "If your mechanic doesn't put a bolt on a wheel correctly then you may lose your driver's life on the first bend. If we don't do something right in our resuscitation processes, we lose a baby".

The Williams team practises around 2,000 pit stops a season in the hope of shaving a few tenths-of-a-second from the tyre-change. Small mistakes can cost positions on the track.

Gemma Fisher, a human-performance specialist at Williams, said: "That's a lot of pressure to deal with. It's a different pressure to what the doctors and nurses are dealing with at the hospital but it binds those people and builds that team ethic: even more so because they are in such a complex and stressful environment."

The collaboration between the Formula One team and the hospital has already resulted in unneeded equipment being removed from the emergency trolley and a dedicated area being marked out in maternity operating theatres for the neonatal team to work in.

The doctors and nurses now hope to start filming resuscitation attempts from cameras attached to their bodies so they can learn from any mistakes or hesitation to further improve their performance.

After watching the pit crew practising, Louise Cleaton, lead nurse on the project, said: "Everybody has a job to do, it is the way forward. We are not aiming at targets of time, we are aiming at efficiency with less stress. A baby is a delicate living thing we have to treat gently."

Hospitals are increasingly looking to other industries to improve efficiency.

The Ferrari Formula One team has already worked with other hospitals in the UK to help doctors transfer children from operating theatres to intensive care.