Aric Almirola said Friday that the ambulance taking him from his crashed car to the infield care center at Kansas Speedway didn’t know how to get to the care center.
Almirola suffered a fractured vertebra in the crash and ended up missing six races. He had to be cut out of his car — which was parked at the exit of turn 2 — following the wreck because of his back pain and was later taken to a local hospital.
He would have gotten to the hospital a bit sooner had the ambulance known where it was going.
“The ambulance driver and guy in the passenger seat were yelling,” Almirola said. “They were stuck somewhere in the infield amongst the motorhomes and couldn’t figure out how to get back the infield care center.
“I have met with NASCAR on it and they are trying to figure out ways to rectify it. They run all their pre-race routes on Thursday or Friday and then through the weekend a lot of campers show up and the infield looks drastically different on race day than when they run their pre-routes. I think that was one of the challenges they had in Kansas. I did get lost in the back of the ambulance and that wasn’t very much fun in the moment.”
Almirola isn’t the only driver who has had an adventure in an ambulance this season after an accident. The topic of ambulances came up earlier in the week after an ambulance ended up blocking the entrance to pit road during a caution flag at Richmond Saturday night and Denny Hamlin first revealed the ambulance carrying Almirola didn’t know how to get to the care center.
“I know they’re trying to do the best they can. I mean, they’re not doing it every week, they’re just doing it when we come to town,” Hamlin said. “Some argue it should be the same team everywhere. Others think the ambulance crew or the EMS crew should be familiar with just that racetrack. I don’t know what the correct answer is, but we for sure can get better because we’re not good right now.”
Before the 2017 season, NASCAR announced a partnership with American Medical Response. As part of the agreement, AMR was set to “position state licensed doctors and paramedics in a chase vehicle along with two NASCAR Track Services team members and immediately respond to an on-track incident.”
NASCAR does not have a traveling safety crew and instead relies on support from local medical personnel contracted for race weekends. The AMR agreement was designed to have a rotating group of personnel to allow for a greater familiarity with drivers.
“I think everybody is going a great job when they get to the cars, but we still have some issues of getting the ambulances and things from several drivers to the infield care center without getting lost,” Kevin Harvick said. “And that’s been an issue for not only myself, twice, but several other drivers as they’ve had their trips to the infield care center. Getting the ambulance, and I know that’s a constant work in progress, the chase truck and the ambulance to the accident scene as soon as possible when you know it’s a major impact is important, and I know they are continuously working to try to make that better, but the ambulances need to know where they’re going, and I don’t know if that’s coming from the ambulances and their preparation, or if it’s coming from – like last week, it sounds like the ambulances were released and then stopped and just wound up stopping in the wrong spot, but we’ve got to eliminate those types of things.”
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