JPS at the ready to treat NASCAR fans, racers if needed

April 5th, 2018

While more than 100,000 people watch the drivers compete in the NASCAR race this weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway, circling the track at speeds approaching 200 mph, doctors, nurses and other team members at JPS Health Network will be watching out for both the race enthusiasts and the stock car pilots.

“When the track opens on Thursday of a race weekend, suddenly it turns into a small city,” JPS Manager of Emergency Management J.J. Jones said. “So there are always going to be some issues when you get that many people together. We’re hoping for the best. But we have to be ready for the worst.”

A rescue helicopter lands at JPS

A rescue helicopter lands at JPS

Anytime there is an event in the Fort Worth area that causes more than 10,000 people to gather in one place, JPS is on alert in case of a possible mass casualty event, its team members ready to spring into action if needed. As the only Level 1 Trauma Center in Tarrant County, JPS could also be called to action if one of the racers suffers a catastrophic crash and finds himself on a helicopter ride for emergency surgery.

JPS plans ahead for big events in concert with local emergency management officials, fire departments and police forces to make sure a strategy is in place for just about any situation imaginable.

A few minor injuries and illnesses are typical when there’s a large crowd. But especially concerning this race weekend is that fact that the weather is expected to cause problems. Gusty winds are in the forecast Friday when the high temperature will be 84. Scattered thunderstorms are expected Friday evening and it’s possible they could become severe with hail and tornadoes a threat. On Saturday, it will become unseasonably cool with the low plunging to 39 degrees overnight and the high rebounding to only 53.

Many of the spectators at the track will be camping in tents, so exposure could be an issue. And then there is the possibility of mishaps. In the past when there has been cold weather during a NASCAR event in Texas, some race fans were sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning when they tried to fend off the chill by idling their vehicles to stay warm. Fortunately, according to Jones, none of the competing drivers has ever required attention at JPS for a race-related injury since the track was opened in 1996.

Fortunately, when the main event of the race weekend is held Sunday, the forecast calls for sunny skies and moderate temperatures with a high of 71.

In addition to the two NASCAR races at the Texas Motor Speedway each year and other races held at the track, events for which JPS is called on to be alert in case emergency medical services were required have included visits from presidents of the United States and other high-ranking government dignitaries, Super Bowl XLV in 2011 in Dallas, the Main Street Arts Festival and Mayfest.

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