Williams has been assisting the neonatal unit at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff by bringing Formula One pitstop know-how to help in the resuscitation of newborn babies.
Recognising the similarities between neonatal resuscitations and F1 pitstops, the resuscitation team at UHW invited members of the Williams team to the hospital last year for an exploratory meeting to discuss how F1 techniques and processes could be incorporated into their work. Wednesday 4th May saw members of the neonatal team from UHW visit the Williams factory to observe the team practice pitstops to see first-hand how they operate.
Both scenarios require a team of people to work seamlessly in a time critical and space-limited environment. In F1, a pit crew can change all four tyres on a car in around two seconds, with a team of nearly 20 people working in unison to successfully service a car. Williams has a dedicated human performance specialist who works with its pit crew to fine tune the technique, processes, team work and health and fitness of team members. Their experience previously treating new-borns in clinical practice has facilitated the transition of knowledge between the two industries and they have been the primary advisor to the hospital. Williams's pitstops have been a real success story for the team in 2016, recording the fastest stops of any team at each of the first four races of the 2016 season.
Following these site visits, the neonatal team has identified and started implementing a number of changes to improve its resuscitation processes that are based on those used in Formula One racing. The resuscitation equipment trolley has now been audited and streamlined to ensure that equipment can be located as quickly as possible. The neonatal team have mapped out a standardised floor space in delivery theatres to clearly show the area for the neonatal resuscitation team to work in; copying the customised floor map the Williams team takes to races to map out the specific pit box requirements at each track. The pitstop resuscitation team at UHW are also in the early stages of implementing F1 communications and analysis techniques, including the use of a "radio-check" prior to a resuscitation, greater use of hand signals rather than verbal communication, and video analysis to analyse performance following a resuscitation with debrief meetings as standard.
Speaking about the project Dr Rachel Hayward, specialist registrar in Neonates at the University Hospital of Wales said; "Resuscitation of a compromised neonate at delivery is time critical, requiring the provision of efficient and effective resuscitation to ensure an optimal outcome. Delays in providing effective resuscitative care can have marked consequences on survival or the development of long term complications. There is a growing amount of evidence to support a systematic approach to resuscitative care which is time-critical and dependent upon optimal team dynamics and clear communication. Analogous with the requirements of an effective pitstop we have worked with the Williams team to implement Formula One techniques and processes to augment neonatal resuscitative care".
"When we were approached by the Neonatal team at the University Hospital of Wales last year to offer some advice we were delighted to assist," added Claire Williams. "Their work is vitally important and the pressure they work under is difficult to comprehend; it's a matter of life and death every day of the week. If some of the advice we have passed on helps to save a young life then this would have been an extremely worthy endeavour. We are increasingly finding that Formula One know-how and technology can have benefit to other industries and this is a great example."