In the series 'interviews with people who makes MotoGP happen', I spoke with someone who we all hope none of the riders will ever see, despite the fact that he is a really nice man. The man is Doctor Berardi Eraldo and he runs the medical center of the Misano Circuit . In other words, when one of the riders hurts himself, this is where he is taken to be 'repaired'. And by the way, it is not only racers who can find themselves in the capable hands of Dr. Eraldo and his staff: the public present on the race track also end up here if they have a problem. But... not in the same area where the racers are. That could lead to problems; if you imagine Valentino being in the medical center, how many people suddenly need to go as well.
The Misano race circuit medical center is quite big and very well equipped. The latest technology can be found here; so many that a smaller hospital would be jealous. And as far as staff go, they have a lot, and very professional. You will see several photos after the interview of the medical center. Obviously I am not an expert, far from it, so I can not describe what all the machines do. Use your imagination.
I interviewed the kind doctor, a doctor that any person who love to have as family physician thanks to his kindness, in his office. He is gentle, his English is quite good and he explained things very well without falling back on expert language. Throughout the interview and walk around of the medical center, he has a walkie-talkie earphone plugged in permanently in his right ear. He is always in touch with the race security people, ready for action.
Doctor Berardi Eraldo
Q: You look after the medical center of Misano race circuit, but do you only do the MotoGP races, or do you do other races?
A: I have been here for 20 years, and I look after all races; auto, motorcycle and other. For me this is the seventh time I look after the MotoGP. I work in a hospital, but I am always here for races, and sometimes also for practises. We do have a permanent staff here, doctors and paramedics who always work at Misano. For 20 years I have worked with SuperBikes. But working for MotoGP is more difficult to work as with than other races, but not with accidents. We get more accidents with other races.
Q: Are the medical staff here specialized in the type of accidents you get here?
A: Yes, yes. All doctors and emergency staff here are specialized in traumatology or neurosurgery and reanimation. All staff here work in emergency rooms in hospitals when not working at the circuit. I recruit all medical staff here, I look at their CVs and their experience in emergency work. These are the only staff we hire.
Q; Do these people come here because they are passionate about racing?
A: Yes, yes, but for many people it is work. They work here for many days in a year. The race track works more or less 360 days per year. During this coming MotoGP, the medical center itself has until Saturday 20 staff, while on Sunday there are 22 staff (ed: just in the medical center). But during the whole year, there are always one or two doctors here permanently - at all times.
Doctor Berardi Eraldo
Q: Do you also provide a training for your staff?
A: Yes, we have a very strict training program. The Misano circuit has now become an example for the medical centers of other circuits to follow. Three times per year we hold extensive mandatory training sessions for ALL staff, and I mean everyone: doctors, medics, drivers. If medical staff want to work in Misano, they must follow these courses. Even if they are famous names in surgery, if they do not follow the training courses, they are not allowed to work here. I am responsible for the courses, and I must show the Misano race management that I run these courses all year long.
This is for all races. Like next week we have cart races, so no media visibility, but still we follow the procedures and the training. I have been working on this process for 5 years to get to this high level of procedures.
Q: Do you deal with other accidents that do not come from the track, for example from the public?
A: Yes, we deal with everybody; racers and general public.
Q: What kind of emergency interventions can you do, and which can you not?
A: We do the first aid; we have a structure to reanimate 3 people at the same time. We do radio (ed: x-ray) diagnostics, echographia, and we have an MRI machine. Of course if there is a severe accident with severe trauma which we can not handle, we stabilize the racer and then we transfer them to the nearest hospital by helicopter. It is 40 kilometers, and the trip takes 20 minutes.
Q: How many medical staff are there in total at maximum time, in the center and on the track?
A: Today (ed: Friday) and Saturday 80, Sunday 90 to 95 staff members; doctors, medics and drivers.
Q: Last question I ask everyone, do you ride a motorcycle yourself?
A: Yes I do, sometimes. It is a passion but I have to be very careful when I ride, because I need to be able to fully focus and be sharp for my job. Here I do not have the chance to fail. So often it is difficult to ride.
Thank you for the interview.
Below you will find the photos of the medical center of Misano race circuit. Let's hope no one needs to see the inside for real.
First-aid room for the public
First-aid room for the public