Doctors and nurses at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, are being trained by the Williams pit crew in the hope of fine-tuning the resuscitation of premature newborn babies.
The Formula One team is the slickest so far this season, changing four tyres in just two seconds. Sky News was exclusively invited to the Williams HQ in Oxfordshire to watch the interaction between the medical team and the pit crew.
Dr Rachel Hayward, a neonatal care specialist at the hospital, approached the team after realising that vital seconds were being lost in treating babies with breathing problems.
She told Sky News: “They said to us, ‘We are putting wheels on cars and you are saving lives. We can’t see what the analogy is’.
“And we said, ‘If your mechanic doesn’t put a bolt on a wheel correctly then you may lose your driver’s life on the first bend. If we don’t do something right in our resuscitation processes, we lose a baby’.”
The Williams team practises around 2,000 pit stops a season in the hope of shaving a few tenths-of-a-second from the tyre-change. Small mistakes can cost positions on the track.
Gemma Fisher, a human-performance specialist at Williams, said: “That’s a lot of pressure to deal with.
“It’s a different pressure to what the doctors and nurses are dealing with at the hospital but it binds those people and builds that team ethic: even more so because they are in such a complex and stressful environment.”
The collaboration between the Formula One team and the hospital has already resulted in unneeded equipment being removed from the emergency trolley and a dedicated area being marked out in maternity operating theatres for the neonatal team to work in.
The doctors and nurses now hope to start filming resuscitation attempts from cameras attached to their bodies so they can learn from any mistakes or hesitation to further improve their performance.
After watching the pit crew practising, Louise Cleaton, lead nurse on the project, said: “Everybody has a job to do, it is the way forward.
“We are not aiming at targets of time, we are aiming at efficiency with less stress. A baby is a delicate living thing we have to treat gently.”
Hospitals are increasingly looking to other industries to improve efficiency.
The Ferrari Formula One team has worked with Great Ormond Street Hospital to help doctors transfer children from operating theatres to intensive care, and North Bristol NHS Trust pioneered airline industry-style safety checks to improve the care of surgical patients.
See the evolution of the pit stop below.