NASCAR again has upped its level of medical commitment and response, working in conjunction with American Medical Response to announce that Dr. Angela Fiege will serve as the newly appointed NASCAR/AMR Safety Team Medical Director.
The Indianapolis-based doctor has served as a physician medical consultant in NASCAR for the past two years, supporting both the infield care centers and on-track response at all NASCAR-sponsored race events. Her new role will include collaboration with NASCAR Medical Liaisons and NASCAR Consulting Physicians in addition to guiding the services provided by AMR.
In February, NASCAR announced it was partnering with AMR to expand its capabilities of medical support and enhance on-track incident response -- Fiege's new position is another component of that agreement. Drivers had previously asked for a physician who traveled to the majority of most race weekends as a way to develop familiarity.
A lifelong motorsports fan, Fiege said she is enthusiastic about developing her new role and enhancing the sport's medical program. She has been trackside at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a decade working with both NASCAR and open-wheel drivers.
She was awarded this year's "Above and Beyond Award" for her work presenting lectures on driver and crew safety at NASCAR's annual summits.
"The great thing about this job is that it is an open book waiting to be written," Fiege told NASCAR.com. "I've had the good fortune to get to know a lot of good people along the way. And I think collectively, we'll work to make this something I hope that people who do other forms of motorsport will look to NASCAR and say, 'That was great, let's implement some of their ideas in how we manage our drivers as well.' "
Fiege certainly brings a knowledgeable and diverse background to the position. She began her career as a paramedic and then became a nurse before serving 20 years as a flight nurse for Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital. She then got her medical doctor degree and has managed emergency care at the hospital for the past 12 years.
Part of Fiege's impressive credentialing is that she is board certified in both emergency medicine and neuro critical care.
"I wouldn't trade that for the world," Fiege said of her incredibly diverse experience. "My pathway through life is kind of convoluted, but every step of the way you learn something not only medically, but also in interacting with people.
"The things I learned on the street as a medic translated into how I approached people as a nurse. And what I learned as a nurse has been a great background for me as I practice as a physician. I feel I'm very lucky and it's been a great way to develop a career."
Not only will Fiege oversee the at-track medical response, she also hopes to develop a broader health and fitness program for not only NASCAR's star drivers, but their family members and teammates as well.
"One of the things we hope to accomplish is developing a state-of-the-art, type motorsports medical program," she said. "Not only for the drivers but for the sport in general. There are some things we can do for drivers who spend a lot of time on the road to not only enhance their health, but also their families' health. And there are some exciting things to think about moving forward.
"There are always things you need to do for a driver involved in an incident, of course, but also a lot of things that go on with drivers that are difficult to see. At most people's forefront are concussions and head injuries and things like that. There are certain injury patterns that are peculiar to motorsports, and we want to investigate in terms of treatment and ways to prevent those injuries. The natural evolution of that is how it translates into safety equipment used in civilian life."