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Union: Race officials 'turned and ran' after firefighter's injury

Joel Barthlow was hit by another racer while rendering first aid to a driver who had been in a crash

By FireRescue1 Staff

DETROIT — Firefighters might not volunteer with the crash rescue team at the Detroit Grand Prix this year after one of their own was seriously injured in 2015.

Fox 2 Detroit reported that Joel Barthlow was rendering first aid to a driver who had been in a crash and was hit by another racer. He suffered a collapsed lung, broken ribs and spleen and kidney damage.

"Once he was taken to the hospital, people from the racing outlet team came down there, saw him and his family in the hospital," Rob Scott, president of the Southfield Fire Fighters Union Local 1029, said. "He was on life support and basically was told he'd be taken care of. And when Joel actually started getting better, they turned and ran."

The union submitted a resolution that demands the Detroit Grand Prix and the International Motor Sports Association provide insurance for volunteers.

"Without professional firefighters out there doing this, big racing companies wouldn't be able to have the races because they wouldn't have us there," Scott said.

David Zuppke, Barthlow's attorney, is suing IMSA. He said Barthlow unknowingly signed a legal waiver when he was signing up to get his race credentials.

Scott suggested firefighters do not volunteer if insurance is not offered. 

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