On call at sidelines of Formula 1 races


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 28 Sep 2017

Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix chief medical officer Mejar Jeneral Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Zin Bidin. He has been overseeing medical services for the grand prix since it began in 1999.

SEPANG: It was a tedious task setting up the medical team and clinic for the Formula 1 races 19 years ago, but Mejar Jeneral Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Zin Bidin (pic) did it out of love for the motorsport.

Dr Mohd Zin, who has been the Sepang circuit’s chief medical officer every since, recalls the job falling into his lap by chance.

“My boss called me into his office and told me to handle Formula 1, and there was no turning back,” he told The Star at the Sepang International Circuit recently.

Dr Mohd Zin said they had to get specialists in neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, plastic surgery and orthopaedic surgery.

They also had to set up a clinic at the track with two operating rooms and high dependency wards.

He said they also required medical helicopters, fast intervention vehicles as well as ambulances.

“When I heard we were not inking a new deal for Fomula 1, I was upset,” he said.

Dr Mohd Zin pointed out that over the years, his entire team had “put their heart and soul” into providing the best medical care.

Not quite a fan yet: Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton greeting a couple and a nervous child, along with other motorsport fans who turned up in droves, at KLCC in Kuala Lumpur.
Not quite a fan yet: Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton greeting a couple and a nervous child, along with other motorsport fans who turned up in droves, at KLCC in Kuala Lumpur. 

Although his team also oversaw medical services for the MotoGP, it was just not the same as the “glitz and glamour” of Formula 1.

Medical preparations for Formula 1 are unlike other sporting events, said Dr Sharifah Fetom Syed Ali, an emergency physician specialising in motorsports.

“It is a high risk and very demanding sport,” she said.

Dr Sharifah said most people think the medical personnel just sat around waiting for something to happen.

“They are not aware of the immense preparations that goes on behind the scenes.”

She said the clinic at the circuit was equivalent to a tertiary hospital but a helicopter was also on hand to fly more serious cases to either Hospital Kuala Lumpur or the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre.

Meanwhile, the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) has allocated 5,400 free tickets for youths to catch the final Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix this weekend.

Special Affairs Department (Jasa) director-general Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi said the allocation was part of SIC’s corporate social responsibility.

“Instead of watching it on television, they will get a chance to witness it first-hand before it draws to a close,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Sepang first hosted the F1 in 1999, making Malaysia the second country in Asia after Japan to host the prestigious event.

Standard ticket prices this year range from RM58.68 for a Hillstand K2 ticket to RM613.68 for a Main Grandstand ticket.

Tickets for children aged 12 and below are available at 50% off the corresponding adult ticket prices, while children below seven may enter for free, but they will not be allocated a seat without a ticket.

For details, refer to SICs ticketing page at http://www.sepangcircuit.com/tickets.

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