Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Wealthy men can't live in an island that is encircled by poverty. We all breathe the same air. We must give a chance to everyone, at least a basic chance. ― Ayrton Senna (Formula One three-time World Champion)

Many of you know that I am a big Formula One racing fan and have been for over fifty years.  I fell in love with the sport when Phil Hill became the first American to win the Formula One World Championship in 1961 while I was still in high school.  I have followed the careers of Jackie Stewart, Nicky Lauda and many others and am currently a big fan of Lewis Hamilton, the first black man ever to race in Formula One and is now a three-time world champion.  Sadly, only one other American has ever won a world championship when Mario Andretti did it in 1978.  There are no American drivers now although there is an American team this year.  Formula One has pioneered many changes to cars that we take for granted like seat belts, disk brakes, anti-lock brakes, many safety features, and many changes to engine design and production, but it is an unusual part of Formula One racing that has lately been saving the lives of infants and small children.  It’s the pit stops.  The Williams team has the record for the fastest pit stops where they can clean the rear wing and change all four tires in less than two and half seconds—that’s fast.  But no one would have thought that the pit stop would lead to saving the lives of infants and children.
     A hospital in Wales has drafted in the Williams Formula One team to help speed up its procedures for resuscitating newborn babies.  University Hospital Wales, in Cardiff, has modeled its delivery theaters on F1 pit stops, mapping out work areas on the floor and stripping trolleys down to just the most essential tools.  The hospital called in Williams after it noticed similarities in the teamwork, speed and synchronization required to attend to a pit stop and to resuscitate a new-born baby. Williams recorded the fastest pit stop time of any team at each of the first four races of the 2016 F1 season.  A standard resuscitation involved four people, said Dr Rachel Hayward, a neonatal care specialist, and focused on “the ABC — airways, breathing and circulation”.  She said that following a consultation with Williams, the hospital introduced three major changes. “The first was to improve our trolley with equipment. We have colour coded things and we want to make preformed inserts for drawers,” she said.  The second was to improve the way that the team navigates space and the third was to refine “team dynamics”. “Everyone now has an identified role so before we get started they are clear on what they are doing, whether it is airways or cardiac,” she said, adding that they had presented their new working model to other hospitals in Wales.
   But they weren’t the first to recognize the benefits of using Formula One pit stop techniques.  Doctors at a famous children’s hospital in London have also adapted using the pit stop procedure of the Ferrari Formula One team.  After surgeons completed a six-hour operation to fix the hole in a boy's heart, Angus McEwan supervised one of the more dangerous phases of the procedure: transferring the fragile three-year-old from surgery to the intensive care unit.  Thousands of such "handoffs" occur in hospitals every day, and devastating mistakes can happen during them. This one went off without a hitch, thanks to pit-stop techniques of the Ferrari race-car team.  "It was smooth. We didn't miss anything," said Dr. McEwan, a senior anesthesiologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. His role as leader of the handoff was partly modeled after Ferrari's "lollipop man," who uses a large paddle to direct drivers to the pit.  
     There are more hospitals following suit in other areas where a team is responsible for quick thinking and acting.  Thank God for the doctors and others who see things that work well and make the connections to use them to save the lives of infants and small children.  I get to watch the races I love, it’s in Spain this Sunday, and who knows how many families will have babies and children with a new lease on life thanks to Formula One pit stops.  It’s worth watching a race just to see the pit stops.  I love it as does my oldest son and one of the board members of the One Book Foundation who was there in Austin last year when Lewis Hamilton won the race and his third world championship.  Maybe you should watch one just to see how it might improve your life.

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