There’s the behind the scenes of road racing: the tale of those two-wheel maniacs who speed down countryside roads a two, three, four times the speed limit for the honors of winning a race, putting their life in the balance for a bit of glory. Then there’s behind the behind the scenes, the curtain we rarely get the peek behind, where support and medic crews hide, ready to sprint into action. That's the side of things John Hinds, a flying doctor and a legendary road racing medic gives us in this extremely interesting presentation.
Dr. John Hinds and his colleague Dr. Fred McSorley were what were appropriately called “flying doctors”—doctors mounted on bikes that followed the racers around the course almost as fast as the racers themselves in order to be able to immediately intervene in case of a crash. Because there was no air medevac helicopters in Northern Ireland, this was the fastest way to get a doctor on the scene when things went south for a competitor. So you had these guys who were able to keep up with trained racers, armed with medical gear and a PhD. Pretty badass huh?
This video introduces what seems to be a class or a seminar to the role of road racing medic, hosted by Hinds himself. He describes different types of falls, different types of injuries, the reality of dealing with spectators that is often worst than dealing with the racers themselves (sidenote: don’t be an ass), etc. He describes the type of intervention they can do on the side of the road, what cares they are able to provide with the gear they can fit on a bike. Punctuated with (sometimes) gruesome pictures and humor, even if you know very little of the medical field, the presentation is incredibly informative. Have you ever seen a degloved foot? Now you have.
On his tricked out Ninja 1000, Hinds he saved a number of lives thanks to his immediate presence and fast interventions. He was also a devout militant for the creation of a medical air evacuation service in Northern Ireland. He sadly passed away in 2015 while trailing a practice session of the Skerries 100—he hit a wall at full speed and passed from his injuries a few days later. In 2016, the Air Ambulance Northern Ireland charity was established to provide medical helicopter evacuation to the sector. While he never got to witness his hard work bare fruit, Hinds’ legacy endures in this significantly big step towards improved safety for the racers.