The Motorsport Knowledge Institute (MKI), a division of the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), conducted the first stage of its research into the hydration of officials during the 2012 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (30thMarch – 6thApril), and the results are striking. 93 data sets in total were collected during the event and even though the data is still being processed, the initial urine osmolality analysis show that approximately 75% of volunteer officials were classified as having upper levels of dehydration, with the remaining marshals suffering from severe dehydration. In the situation where even minor hydration can lead to severe health consequences including death this study has important policy implications.
A team of researchers from the University of Ulster, led by Dr. Gareth Davison PhD, one of Europe’s leading authorities on the issue of dehydration, worked closely with Dr. Sean Petherbridge MD, Chief Medical Officer of the ATCUAE, who commented: “We’ve presented evidence that suggests this is a real problem, not just a potential one”.
“The first phase of the hydration research programme was very successful, and early indications would suggest that volunteers working in extreme heat experienced various levels of dehydration. The consequence of being in a state of severe dehydration is extra pressure being put on the normal functioning of the human body.” stated Dr Davison.
ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said “As much as we were aware of risks associated with working in extreme conditions, this initial research has revealed some striking facts that we have to address immediately for the safety of volunteer officials”. He believes the study will have a big social impact and intends to share the results of the research with the relevant government ministries so that the maximum amount of people can benefit.
This initiative was taken by the ATCUAE to contribute to the safety and wellbeing of all volunteers servicing the needs of sporting events held in extreme weather conditions.
Funded in part by the FIA Foundation’s Motor Sport Safety Development Fund, the objective of the study is to improve the working conditions of not only motorsport officials, but all those working outdoors in extreme climates. The Motor Sport Safety Development Fund was set up in 2008 as a charitable fund to help progress and improve safety, training and education in motor sport worldwide. The FIA Institute manages the programmes of the Fund on behalf of the FIA Foundation. This includes the Officials Safety Training Programme under which this activity is being conducted.
The project will further investigate the issue of dehydration during the next two stages, which include the 2012 Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November, and the 2012 Dubai International Rally in December.
The Motorsport Knowledge Institute intends to finalize the study ready for publication at the end of the year. As the findings and recommendations of the study are not limited to motor sport, or restricted to the Middle East, they will be distributed worldwide for the benefit of any organisation that requires their staff to work in high temperature conditions.