Berwick Bandits have issued an apology to supporters following a one-hour delay which cut short Saturday’s speedway meeting due to a lack of medical cover.
The match against Redcar bears was delayed for 67 minutes at Shielfield when the medical officer became unwell and left the stadium.
Without a qualified doctor or fully-registered paramedic, the club called Dr Alan Fortune.
He was spending the weekend doing the St Cuthbert’s Walk from Melrose to the Northumbrian coast and was just sitting down to dinner in Ancrum after a long day’s walking when he received the call. He immediately drove to Berwick to enable the meeting to continue, but a crash which resulted in a rider needing treatment on the track meant the meeting had to be cut short.
Berwick Bandits promoter John Anderson has issued a statem,ent apologising to fans. He also explained that although the club complies with all of the sport’s medical and safety regulations, it cannot guarantee having a second medical officer on duty.
“We would love to have a second medical officer on duty, but this is just not possible, not just on economical grounds but also logistically,” said Mr Anderson.
“Paramedics have their own work commitments and at times we, and our suppliers, find it a struggle to ensure even basic cover every week”.
As soon as Dr Fortune arrived on Saturday night, racing resumed. But after just two more heats a pit-bend crash resulted in Berwick rider Matty Wethers requiring careful attention as he lay on the track.
He was later transferred to the ambulance for treatment. But the delay meant the remaining heats could not be completed before the council-imposed Saturday-night curfew of 9.30pm.
Mr Anderson said: “The circumstances were truly exceptional, but we are aware we had to ask spectators to wait an undue length of time – it was 67 minutes – before resuming racing after Heat 6.
“For this, we fully and deeply apologise.
“It is perhaps necessary to explain that, for the first time I can ever recall, the medical officer in control of the event became unwell to the extent he chose to leave the stadium, taking a taxi to Alnwick to collect his car.”
The club says it has spoken to the paramedic since the weekend to check on his wellbeing and says he has apologised for having to withdraw in such circumstances.
Mr Anderson added: “On behalf of Berwick Speedway, I want to make a public apology to our patient supporters, and the travellers from Redcar for an unacceptable delay. That an appointed medical officer – the one single official without whom racing cannot take place – would be taken emotionally unwell to the extent he decided to leave the stadium, is something we could not have anticipated, and is hopefully unlikely to ever strike us again.”