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City officials survey emergency response at British Grand Prix

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TWC News: City officials survey emergency response at British Grand Prix
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A day after the rain and traffic kept Austin officials from the track in Silverstone, England, they were able to check out the way the race is handled across the ocean.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and Rodney Gonzales, the city’s Deputy Director of Economic Development, took a tour of the track’s medical and emergency response facilities in Silverstone.

With thousands of people in the stands, and more going around the track at speeds up to 200 mph, a track’s medical facility needs to be able to handle anything.

"They are prepared to treat the smallest of injuries to the most major injuries, including race car accidents," Gonzales said. "Even though Austin has well-advanced Trauma Level I facilities nearby, what we understand from race officials is they need to have something like that on site to provide immediate care."

Rodney Gonzales said Silverstone's center is fully equipped for care and immediate resuscitation. Additional help is just a few hundred feet away.

"They've got a total of eight beds to treat patients, and they've got a total of four beds for resuscitation,” Gonzales said. “They definitely do have one on-site dedicated Star Flight helicopter, and they've got one that is on call that is dedicated solely to the medical center."

Gonzales and Chief Acevedo also had a look at emergency operations for the British Grand Prix to take place on Sunday.

"I'm going to have to take a really hard look at all of our emergency plans,” Chief Acevedo said. “It's not just a matter of traffic management. It's getting people in, getting people in during an emergency, getting people out in an emergency."

Acevedo says he plans to set up three emergency operations centers during the U.S. Grand Prix in November. One will be at the race track; two others will be manned throughout Austin. Each will have its specific purposes to ensuring a safe return of Formula 1 racing to the United States.

Austin's city leaders also met behind closed doors with Formula 1 executive Bernie Eccelstone Saturday.

Details of the discussions are not being made public, but officials said Eccelstone is excited to see Formula 1 back in the United States.

They say he also looks forward to research and development that may stem from the Grand Prix in Central Texas.

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