Their experience at special event services first began at the Eldora dirt track in Rossburg, but the green flag is flying for the men and women of Spirit EMS as other raceways are taking a liking to the experience level and services they have to offer.
Earlier this year, Spirit EMS was contracted by American Medical Response to help provide service for its contract of multiple venues being held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Spirit EMS has covered dirt track races for several years, so they were excited for the opportunity to work in a different type of racing. They had four staffed ambulances at the Indianapolis 500, two ambulances at The 2023 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, and a few other smaller venues so far this year.
Along with ensuring their EMTs were Indiana-certified, Spirit EMS underwent specific training for these events.
“We were asked to be a part of their track surface training,” Spirit EMS Operations Manager Brian Brown said. “You get a tour of the facilities, learn where different things are, and learn how to access different parts of the track. If you’ve ever been to IMS, you might know there are multiple tunnels, so it’s a matter of knowing which ones an ambulance can go in and out of. That’s why we practice, so come race day, we are prepared and know our route of travel whenever an emergency need arises.”
In previous events that Spirit EMS has covered, they usually have a triage area set up to manage their patients. During the Indianapolis 500 and The 2023 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, however, the track has an infield hospital staffed with nurses and physicians.
With a large crowd can come several EMS calls for the folks at Spirit EMS and American Medical Response to respond to.
“A lot of our job at the speedway is picking the patient up and taking them to the infield hospital and letting the nurses and the doctors further treat and care of them,” Brown said. “Primarily, we do life-saving events in the field there. They are transported to that infield hospital at the racetrack if it’s anything minor. The bulk of the patients go to the infield hospital, and then they transfer them to the local hospitals if needed.”
Spirit EMS handled the responses to the spectator areas during its assignment at the Indianapolis 500, The 2023 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, and other venues. This year, the Indianapolis 500 had roughly 400,000 to 500,000 people, with approximately 35 ambulances between Spirit EMS, Heartland EMS, and AMR to take care of them.
At events other than the Indianapolis 500, where fewer people attend, EMS responses have been handled in a sole cooperative effort between AMR and Spirit EMS.
The biggest issue they run into at summer events like these is the heat.
“With heat emergencies, you just never know,” Brown said. “It’s very interesting how fast it can go from 0 – 100 and back down.”
Spirit EMS hopes to continue doing these events in the future.
“We have an evolving relationship with AMR that we hope to keep growing,” Brown said. “It’s an opportunity for our EMS staff to see something out of the ordinary of what they take care of every day. It’s fun to see people get into their element and see the adrenaline rush start when multiple calls start coming in, and everyone goes to work as one team.”
Brown said it’s an honor for the men and women of Spirit EMS to be asked to assist with such large-scale events as the Indianapolis 500 and The 2023 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard.
“Every day at Spirit EMS, we aspire to do our very best in all we do, and sending our staff to work a racetrack surrounded with hundreds of thousands of people is just one example of that. After nearly seventeen years in the business, organizations from across the nation are beginning to know who Spirit EMS is and the quality and professional services we provide,” Brown said. “It’s exciting to go to conferences across the nation and speak with people who know and have heard about us because of the extraordinary things we are doing, which are unheard of from a private family-owned ambulance provider. We’re always daring to be different in the most positive ways possible, and that’s why places like AMR call upon us when they need help for such events as the Indianapolis 500.”