After just six race meetings of being an Incident Officer I find myself writing about it? Before it goes against me that I’m either too big for my boots or trying to tell more experienced I/Os what to do, I can inform you that this isn’t that. Instead it is about the struggles and changes I’ve found in the progression from being an incident marshal to someone who has to lead a team and helps give direction and guidance to those who have to get out on track and deal with incidents. In essence this is about me finding my feet.
If you are starting the journey as an I/O then this could be the blog for you, but please don’t take everything as right because I’m still learning, and things could change, and I may have missed an important fact.
Keeping it Brief
The first change I noticed in my transition from incident marshal to incident officer was having to brief the team at the beginning of each racing day once everyone had arrived on post. I made the original error of thinking I would just have to tell the team what to expect from the corner, what would be the plan if we had an incident and the general safety of looking after who you are partnered with and taking a fire extinguisher to every incident. I was wrong! There is this and much more involved.
What I have called the pre-briefing is an essential part of the duty when I have first arrived on post. Figuring out what equipment we have and where it should go, who has turned up and what experience they have. This will help after the main briefing as deciding who will be partnered with who so there is a good balance of experience spread around the post in the event on an incident.
The final part of the briefing as an incident officer is talking to the post chief to see whether there are any anomalies in the racing such as there being disabled drivers that require a certain way of them being assisted if they were to pull off at our post or cars that are running on different fuel meaning we will need to tackle it with a different fire extinguisher if it is on fire.
Room with a View
Another part of being an I/O that I am coming to grips with is the balance between standing back and letting the marshals deal with the incident and getting stuck in with the rest of them. At first, I will admit I was quick to revert to type and went and dealt with the incident. A quick chat with my post chief at the time gave me some good advice. He said, “I should have allowed the incident marshals to go out and attend, whilst I stood back and made sure the scene was safe for the marshals to work.”
Since that point however, I’ve not had a chance to stand back and let the marshals deal with incidents while I observed. I’ve been in scenarios where I’ve had to go and deal with an incident; this is either due to fewer numbers, because there was already an incident which had occurred, or the incident was that big it required extra numbers and it became all hands to the pump.
The final thing that I have noticed that falls onto the shoulders of an Incident Officer is the pressure, it may not seem like a factor to take into account yet, there are moments when everyone on post looks to you for the answer of how to deal with an incident. This pressure goes up as the meetings are a higher profile, my brain can’t currently compute what it would be like to be in that scenario at the Formula One when the biggest meeting I’ve done is the British GTs.
Time will tell though whether or not I am cut out to be an Incident Officer but, until then it’s another opportunity to improve my skill sets and get a different view on the marshalling so if I do return to the realms of being an incident marshal, I’ll have a greater understanding of what it takes to get to that next level.
For now, I think it’s best that I go and brush up on my briefing.