Jeffrey Milges started working as a rescue diver when American Power Boat Association (APBA) Offshore racing came to town in 1995. He was a public safety diver, which had nothing to do with rescuing a driver entrapped in a boat upside down. He began working part-time for AMR Ambulance while at the Fire Department. One contract was an oval track, and as a Fire Instructor he had no knowledge about racecars or race rescue, but he did know that he knew more than the safety crew at the track. Jeff and Kevin Hull searched for a training program to safely work at a track, but they couldn’t find one. AMR and SunStar EMS told them to put together a training program of their own, so they hired Dave Brown for Indy Racing League and Sweet Savage from NHRA to add their expertise.
Jeff and his team taught that class for 8 years before starting MotorSports Rescue Association. They transformed it from 8 hours to 16, added live fire, extrication, medical physiology, mechanisms of injuries, and a lot more. They submitted their program to the SFI Foundation, which made them SFI Instructors. Students are issued an SFI Certificate and kept in a National Database of trained Rescue Technicians.
Taking the race rescue model for cars, Jeff wrote an SFI-approved training program for people interested or working as a safety team for offshore and other boat racing venues such as drag racing or hydroplane racing. This is in water training for scuba divers, boat captains, and other EMS personnel assigned to the event. The Red Bull Air Race Dive Rescue Team from the Netherlands recently became certified.
In addition to training programs, which he instructs, Jeff also has experience as a Jump Medic at Daytona International Speedway. He works at tracks and provides rescue teams for the St. Petersburg Grand Prix and associated SCCA events like the Pirelli World Challenge for the last 16 years. His rescue association has done Drag Racing, circle tracks, road courses, off-road trucks, boats, motorcycles, even airboats on land!
5 QUESTIONS WITH AN AMBASSADOR
1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?
It seems each advancement comes with tragedy. On the face of things, most venues won't want to spend money on safety equipment unless it's mandated. This is a broad statement, I know, but you only have to go to most tracks on a Saturday night to know that this has validity. There are many things, safer barriers, COTs, Hans, telemetry, and even fire suit materials, but one thing that stands out to me is FireAde 2000. This isn't a push for one brand, but this was the first hydrocarbon encapsulating agent I had ever used with phenomenal results. I know people like cold fire, or the other similar agents, but the fire fighting knockdown power that I have on my truck rivals most fire trucks for a flammable liquid fire. After putting out a running fuel fire, I have no doubt in my mind that it cannot re-flash. During our training program, I even walk through gasoline with a propane blow torch trying to ignite the fuel after it was extinguished with FireAde 2000. Now it is not the perfect agent for all types of fires, but it is my first choice of weapon to save someone's life when threatened by fire.
2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?
I would mandate minimum training and equipment for Safety/Rescue Teams. NFPA-610 is a start, but it isn't any good if tracks ignore it, and fire departments don't know about it. There are still many tracks where there are NO rescue teams at all. In this day and age, why people would even race there is mind-boggling. The image of a guy in a bunker coat, jeans and gym shoes, with a cigarette in one hand and fire extinguisher in the other... sitting in a 20 year-old pickup with MAYBE a crowbar is still occurring at Motor Sport Venues... and they don't know any better. They think they know what they are doing and why should they change? The track operators look at the bottom line; after all, it's a business. But even with Waivers of Liability tracks are losing lawsuits. Look at Wolfgang vs World of Outlaws, or the Gratton vs Super Boat International. Negligent Rescue. You know the risks, but you ignored them. We have to be pushing for greater standards for ourselves. If we don't, the government will start regulating the sport. This will put racing out of the reach of many people, and venues will close.
3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?
I actually like the smaller dirt tracks with Sprint Car racing. The action is always fast, and I know that there will be an accident or fire... just a matter of time. I am not working at a track to be earning overtime, or sleeping. I am there to save someone's life or property
4) Who is your hero?
I liked President Reagan, but Jesus is the only person I had ever looked up to.
5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?
I hope to share my experiences from the fire service and racing experience to bring a standard to racing safety. All firefighters are not equal in skills or knowledge. Why are some firefighting programs only 40 hours for volunteers, and 640 hours for professional certification? It's the same job, same tools, right? I would not even profess to know what a CFR (Crash Fire Rescue) firefighter knows about aircraft firefighting, the safety systems, or egress of a burning aircraft. Race rescue is a specialized field, and it should be treated as such. I am honored that the Motorsport Safety Foundation chose me to be an Ambassador. I will try to be informative and assist you with any questions you may have.