A Formula 1 Pit Stop team teaches a hospital how to deliver babies

Sharon Wong

What does sprucing up a vehicle have in common with resuscitating newborn infants? Everything, apparently. You need to be efficient, skilled and very, very good at operating in tight spots. And quintessentially, both are life and death situations of a different kind.

We needn’t tell you what could happen if a car wasn’t maintained in top form or if a newly delivered baby was not brought to squalling consciousness in time. Apparently, Wales’ largest neonatal unit caught on to the parallels long before we did and booked an education field trip for its staff to the Williams factory to pick up some tricks of the trade.

University Hospital of Wales staff did end up learning quite a bit when they saw how speedily the Williams team operated. The team is able to change four tyres on a car in two seconds and actually works with a performance specialist to fine tune their procedures and techniques. After witnessing their seamless mode of operation, the hospital staff was greatly impressed. Some significant changes will be taking place at the hospital’s maternity ward posthaste.

UWH. Source: Wikimedia Commons
UWH. Source: Wikimedia Commons


The neonatal team will be streamlining the resuscitation equipment trolley to ensure that nurses can reach it as quickly as possible and mapping out the floor space of delivery theatres so work areas will be more clearly delineated. They will also be adopting some distinctly F1 communication and analysis techniques such as a “radio-check” before beginning a resuscitation, hand signals and video analysis to monitor performance.

“We’ve re-audited the streamlined trolley after six months and we’ve found a significant improvement in the accessibility and organisation of the equipment which in turn has a time-dependant effect on our resuscitation processes.

“Delays in providing effective resuscitative care can have marked consequences on survival or the development of long-term complications.”

Dr Rachel Hayward, UWH specialist registrar

Personally, we love it. We knew that the near-machinelike efficiency of F1 teams had to have some kind of real life application and we weren’t wrong. The UWH staff are to be commended for being able to admire the skill that goes behind every race and for being able to think outside the box when it comes to updating their own practices. We’re anticipating an entire generation of new motorsports enthusiasts with a hearty appreciation for the role F1 has played in giving them a chance at life.

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