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You are in: Isle of Man > TT > My TT: The Nurse

Intenensive Care Unit Ward Sister Pamela Quirk

ICU Ward Sister, Pamela Quirk

My TT: The Nurse

Noble's Hospital Intensive Care Unit Ward Sister, Pamela Quirk has experienced TT Week, from a medical point of view, since she was seventeen. Here, she describes her thoughts on The Races.

I love the TT. Some people might find that hard to understand, bearing in mind I see what the effects can be. But I just love the atmosphere.

Normally, I work nights but in TT Week, I try to do days so I can have some time to see the Races myself.

When the weather’s good, you can be lying out in the sun with friends, up at Creg ny Baa, listening to the radio commentary, smelling the air - you could be somewhere foreign.

"Even after all these years of nursing, there are some deaths I just can’t get my head around."

Pamela Quirk

But when I hear the Rescue Helicopter and see the Roads Closed car going through, I think, “I wonder what’s going to be waiting for me when I go into work tomorrow?”

People imagine ITU must be chock-a-block in TT Week but it depends on the year. Unfortunately, a lot of riders are going so fast when they crash that they never make it in to us.

Death is a better option than the state they can be left in, sometimes.

The really busy time is the weeks leading up to TT when we’re ordering our supplies, making sure everyone’s fully trained on head injuries, spinal injuries, inserting chest drains.

We don’t wish any ill to the riders but there’s always a feeling of excitement, wondering what will come through the door.

John McGuinness

John McGuinness

It helps if we know where someone came off. You have more idea of the speed they were going and how bad the injuries are likely to be. It might’ve been on a straight at full speed, with stone walls and houses on either side of them when they were spat off or it might’ve been going round the corner at the Creg, where they’ve more likely to slide off.

We’re very stubborn in ITU. We’ll always log roll riders, which means we’ll avoid twisting their spine - and even if we get a message that the spine is OK, we’ll continue to log roll until we’re fully aware of all their injuries and have seen the CAT scans ourselves.

Initially, we’re busy making sure they’re pain-free, ventilated, replacing blood products, giving antibiotics and fluids.

It can be difficult with foreign riders. Are they in pain? What kind of pain? How much pain?

Some cultures express pain quite vociferously, even if it’s only slight pain whereas others can become more quiet and withdrawn if they’re in a lot of pain.

You feel inadequate because you can’t speak their language. But we have doctors from all over the world at Noble’s, so we’ll get them or some of the medical secretaries or an interpreter in.

Some people are very negative about the TT. They seem to think that the riders have brought their injuries on themselves but I don’t feel any different towards them than if they’d had a car crash.

My attitude is, they’re going to race anyway and death is always a possibility. They know that. You can’t stop them. But you can fight to try to keep them alive after an accident.

Nick Crowe and Darren Hope Southern 100

Nick Crowe and Darre Hope, Southern 100

Do I get emotionally involved? I don’t think you can help it, really. You don’t know them to start off with and they’re not your best friends but you work so hard to try to help them survive.

I feel quite sad if we lose a patient. Even after all these years of nursing, there are some deaths I just can’t get my head around.

If someone comes in and they’re really mashed up, they look like someone who’s going to die. But with the young lads who come in, sometimes there’s not a cut on them.

You know they’ve battered their brains so much, they’re just not going to survive but it just doesn’t seem fair, somehow.

I took a body down to the mortuary one year, opened this one big door and got a sight of other bodies in there. There was one young chap who’d been racing and he’d broken his neck.

His number was up, I suppose – but he just looked like he was asleep.

I just hope that this year, of all years, all road users will be more conscious of the dangers of the roads because accidents can happen in a split second.

But having said all that, I still wait the whole year for the TT to come round. Maybe it’s because my mum used to have a B&B and we’d look forward to the visitors coming back every year.

It always seemed to be sunny, there was always so much fun and at the end of TT, when they’d all gone home, the house seemed so empty; we’d go through a kind of grieving process.

(Photograph kind courtesy of Ron Clarke, Manx Racing Photography)

last updated: 11/06/2008 at 15:25
created: 14/05/2007

Have Your Say

Do you agree with Pamela? If riders want to race, should we allow them? Or should we ban The Races in order to preserve lives?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

TT should live long and grow bigger for years to come. Great admiration to those doctors, nurses and marshals. Riders-You have my upmost repsect. I for one would pay any amount of money to race in a TT, what a buzz it would be. Even if i did ever get round to doing it and i lost my life, i would ensure that if i finished my 1st lap, that i would come in, write a letter to ensure that my death did not influence the future of the TT and that it has been the nest experience of my life. LONG LIVE THE TT!!

mark day
i had a serious injury & i am still recovering, no way should it be banned, the machine and you are one. these men are different, from the rest, and will always be remembered.

Andy Shields
no chance! not too bothered i went for the first time last year and came home totally hooked! the shiver i got down my spine when those racers passed was immence!!! not only the racing but the whole atmosphere all week was something to count every day down till the next one. i hope the TT is still going when i have kids old enough to show them the 2 weeks unbelivable riding, riders, fun, and excitement.

i think its ridiculous that footballers get paid thousand , these men are real heros and the tt should NEVER EVER get banned

colin molyneux
no.... the races should never be banned, who has the right to tell us what we can do in what is supposed to be a democracy.

You should let them race!!!!!!

David Langley
i fully agree with Pamela. i have been coming to the Island since 2000.It would be heart breaking if the racing was to stop, what with the buzz it all brings is just special & i am only a spectater!!!!! "ride on"

The TT Races should NEVER be banned as long as the riders want to race. I've been coming to the TT as a spectator for some 13 years and love to ride the course as much as watch the races.Roll on TT 2009.

gary peel
May the TT be ETERNAL every body knows the risk.

Lets ban everything and make everyone live in sterilised plastic bubbles , thatd make life so worth living .....

grant gordon
Extreme sports are extreme sports - You play, you chose to die. The TT is an extreme sport.Let them ride. Avalanches killed 52 people in Canada and the US this past winter. I don't hear anybody asking for the banning of Skiing, hiking or sledding - well except school boards. grant

Mervyn Richmond
These riders do it because they love it not because they have to, we watch it because we love it so I dont see a problem, not people are boring with nothing to look forward to. Keep the lads racing its their choice in this so called free country,

Graham Bell
The lads race because they enjoy racing

Andy Wilson passenger 2 Eddy Wright 86 89
Well what can I say the TT is special to a lot of riders and pasengers but racing mile for mile it has been proven to be the safest circuit in the world given the racing milage covered, ok it's done in two weeks and attracts media attention when things go wrong.I have never raced at the TT, but I have done the Southern 100, Scarborough,Cadwell Park & the most dangerous Mallory park & Brands hatch where the meeting was cancled as no ambulances were available on course due to the ammount of accidends and that was on a weekend.p.s. thats when i gave up it hurt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the tt is the best event of the year .if the riders choose to race the let them get on with it .i take my hat off to anyone who competes in the tt as they have the most courage out of anyone.keep the TT

paul skillen
They know what they are doing, so you should let them do what they want it's their life and if they're happy let them crack on they know the score

I have to comment on this as I feel strongly as a rider and a competitor. Dan Clark, so true, the feeling of being able to say I am a TT rider is beyond compare and is my decision to risk my life to be able to say that. You go into the race knowing that someone around you might not come back and that includes yourself. Whoever said smoking kills more per year than the TT is totally right. However, I would like to put it into perspective and say more people died last year playing football than they did in last years TT. Should we ban football? At least as a rider we know we might die, a footballer just doesn't expect it. If you dont like it get off the island for 2 weeks, don't turn up, take your holidays last week in May first week in June. I think it is very ignorant of people to say ban it when it has been around a lot longer than you or I and why should you decide how I live my life?

I lost my nephew in 2007, what an excellent young man he was. Ive seen and felt the pain after. I know martin my nephew would want ti to go on. His motto was "its better to die on your feet than live on your knees". Don't stop the racing, dont you dare !

Pamelas right, the riders know the risks. For those who think the races should be banned to preserve life, doyou think climbers should be stopped from climbing everest in case they are killed?

Banning the TT would only send it underground. Prohibition did exactly the same. Would you rather watch the TT on closed roads with expert medical staff on hand and professional teams preparing the bikes? Or would you prefer it if it was a bunch of people getting together and racing on open roads putting everybody else at risk? No-brainer...

Michael Chouinard
I hope the TT continues on forever. In the United States we have lost our ability to choose a great number of things for ourselves.The TT is a bright beacon in testament to reckless abandon, and more importantly the right to choose well, whatever. When a guy like Matt Mladin says those guys are nuts you gotta be doing something right. By the way, you won't ultimately save any lives as we all die someday. Might as well do it doing something we love.

We must not stop them,they know the risks.

Sure road racing is dangerous, the racers know it and so do the fans , but people will always continue to do it . At least at a planned event it is organised and medical teams are present and on standby .Hats off to themThat is all you can do to make it safer banning it should never be a option.If you dont like it dont ride there or dont support the event but dont take away the riders will and the will of the public to experience real thrill racing on the edge.

Road racing was banned in England many years ago and with good reason, the TT only exists because without it the Island would be bankrupt. I know of several business people who openly admit to charging the TT fans more because they can get away with it during TT week, stop the TT and see the results!

I thought I would never say this, sometimes people need protecting for their own good, road racing should be resigned to history I have lost so many friends some of whom I now regard as selfish if only they knew the pain and heart break they left behind and for what? to prove they could ride that bit faster than another rider the march of technoligy continues bikes get faster brakes and tyres as well, but road racing is dangerous no matter how you try to dress it up, stop it now before another wife child or other family member suffers the ultimate price.


Adrian Harris
fair play to the riders just like most sports you run a risk of some sort or there would be no challenge

the TT races are evry bikers dream but it's the family and friends left behind after a fatality that suffers. RIP Martin Baker x x x


Dan Clark
As far as I am concerned the TT is the best racing circuit in the world and if people want to test themselves and their machines they should be allowed to do so. I have no disrespect for those racers who choose not to ride at the TT whatever their reasons may be, it is a personal choice.2007 was my sixth year of competing in the sidecar class at the TT but unfortunately this year I needed the attention of Pamela and her colleagues after a big crash at Bedstead during practice. I recieved the best treatment possible and all the staff at Nobles hospital, and my local hospital when I was transferred home, were friendly and helpful and not one of them had any bad comments to make about people who race and get injured.Although I have some months of recovery ahead of me before I can even think about returning to the race track I have no regrets for having ridden at the TT and when I am in my rocking chair days (which aren't that far away to be honest) I will have many happy memories to look back on and I am one of the privileged group of people who can say "I am a TT rider".Many thanks to all nursing and medical staff who look after us when we need them, keep up the good work

Peter Cox
The only thing that we have that is truly ours is our lives. It is up to us as to what we do with it.

phil cowley
Whilst I understand the viewpoint of those who cannot understand the reason in the risks involved in racing at the tt I am a racing fan and a big supporter of the tt. As such I hope that this spectacular event continues to flouish unhindered by those who wish to turn us into a completly sterile society where everyone is scared to set foot outside thier front doors in case the unexpected happens and we become liable for critisism. Let the individual continue to make personal decisions instead of being dictated to by beaurocrats who do nothing more risky than play cribbage.Long may it continue

Ivan Turnbull
Many riders obviously enjoy the highs of their life' Racing should continue for those sufficiently skilled.

Dave 'd-dog' Arthur
Love the TT, love the MGP, love the NW200, and long may they continue... And I have nothing but admiration for all the men and women who race at any of these events. Huge respect also, to all the medical teams and let's not forget the good old Marshalls - it wouldn't happen without them.

Peter B
I am 65, a grandfather and I road race. I will do so untill I am no longer able to do so safely. I will then continue to photograph racers doing what I love to do which is go fast on a motorcycle on a course. If one does not like racing and racers, go play golf or perform some other activity that pleases you. I will not harass you, don't try to tell racers what they should or should not do.

If you're not living life on the edge you're not close enough.

TT week is a long tradition in the Isle of Man, people who take part know the risks. but my view is long live the TT

No question about it the races have to stay. All the riders know what the consequences of participating are and fully accept the risk. If the TT is banned then that means that any form of auto racing should be banned as well. Heres a good idea, let's all wrap ourselves in cotton woll and just sit around waiting for death to come to the door.!!!!!

Smoking kills more people each year than the TT so perhaps smoking should be banned not the TT....


sharon haynes
i think the racing its away of life for many people

NO, NO, NO, We all understand what we are up against riding in the Isle of Man, it is our choice, no one makes us do it. At least we die doing what we want to do.

Andrew Ward
I am a biker and Flight Nurse of some 18 years experience, living in the Cayman Islands and I just wanted to say that I am so proud of the total professionalism, dedication and compassion displayed by the medical staff at the TT each year. Without them, the TT would have been cancelled long ago and the worlds best motorsport event would be nothing more than a page in the history books.Man will always push himself further, it's in our nature, nothing will change that and banning the event would only denegrate our very existence, long live the TT.

I am 56 years old. A very keen road racing fan for many years in Northern Ireland, with many friends who also rode short circuit and road races. So many are dead. Finally I cannot justify watching this go on. This is immoral and disgusting, it's money driven and the orgnanisers know that for every pound-generating TT week some poor person will pay with their life. Or three, four five or six. We need to develop safe circuits, and for once and for all say that russian roulette, whilst an intruiging "sport" for the public, has to stop being legitimised in the IOM TT. Skill has no part in this, there is no room for any form of error, mechanical or otherwise.Luck. Russian roulette. I am sick of it and ashamed of my participation in the audience to this barbaric farce.

I too have chosen to live on this Island. I have for the first time witnessed the TT from the grandstand this year. I have always wanted to be here for the TT. As an ex rider and an ex nurse, I have witnessed many accidents (my own brother for example) a rider who came off his motor bike and was very badly injured. (he is now a physiotherapist) I have seen many accidents in my time and many from people who have chosen adventure. I have also seen accedents of people who have just been going around their daily buisness. So I think everyone deserves good care whatever their situation. God bless the TT and may it continue for many years to come. Above all God bless those who care for all the riders who are unfortunate enough to meet with accidents. GO FOR IT.

Don Mackay
There is a saying that everything people enjoy in life is either illegal,immoral or just plain bad for you.Lets get one thing straight we are all going to meet our maker one day.Although approaching retirement age I still ride fast motorcycles and still smoke,but many years ago I decided that I could live a short happy life or a long miserable life and I chose the former.Who really wants to spend the last few years of their life in an old peoples home,staring at the same walls wondering if anything different will happen to relieve the boredom and if you will still be "alive" tomorrow. I for one don't.So I say if people want to take the risk then let them.The only thing I would stress is that other people should be able to make up their own minds so don't risk their lives with reckless driving

Eric Booty
I ride a motorcycle, I think let them race, I think they're mad, if someone said do you want to have a go, of course I would. A t-shirt I saw once sums it up. Picture of a bike cranked over with the footpegs throwing up sparks with the words: Immortal Well so far!

i agree if riders want to ride they shud

Liz G, Spalding
No I don't think the TT Races should be banned to preserve lives. Why? Because people should be able to make their own decisions on how they live their lives and if they choose a past-time or a sport or smoking/drinking, whatever, where the consequences of what they do may be injury, illness or death then so be it. I've lost 4 family members in 10 years to cancer - two of them under 50. 2 friends killed in a microlight accident. And others in tragedies of no interest to you and pointless mentioning here. I'd rather live my life how I choose and take my chances with what I do than die of boredom.

Andy Grant
I have had the mis-fortune to sample the delights of Nobles during one visit to the TT a number of years ago due to my own stupidity.I can only heap praise on the doctors and nurses who looked after me they do a sterling job.As a marshall I knew the risks but did it anyway, riding on the island is an experince I will never forget and one i will treasure for the rest of my life.LET THE TT CONTINUE AND PAY NO ATTENTION TO THOSE WHO WANT IT BANNED (they've proabably never been and wouldn't know what it was like anyway)

Mike Slater
It's good to read something like the experiences of nurses. It makes me think when I get on my bike at the TT. Especially mad sunday.

As a former racer who never ever visited the TT it is something I regret every year. I had a choice as do all the competitors, we all love to race and no-one forces us to do it. Long live the TT.

dave fletcher wrexham
For the amount of bikes, and miles covered. Put it into perspective. Its not unsafe. Try climbing a mountain.

mike steele
Everyone has the right to do what they want with their own lives, nodody goes racing to kill themselves.

Rob Gregory
I ride and am coming to the tt this year for the centenary. I also work on the emergeny side of the ambulance service in North Wales where we get our fair share of motorcycle accidents too, but obviously not on the scale of the tt. Some are bad, some not so bad. All you can do is your best for that casualty. What ever happened to start the crash process, regardless of blame, was almost certainly not the intention of the rider. everybody is different, some race, some don't, most enjoy watching the skill of the riders, some don't. Fot those that do enjoy it the centenary is set to be one of the best so far, lets hope it's a safe one.

I totally agree with Pam at least they race on closed roads which is a lot safer than open roads

The 'TT' "I love it", "I hate it"............ The skill and courage needed to tackle the 37 mile lap at masive speed is un-imaginable to regular road riders. I have raced at both short circuit & short 'road circuit', but the TT has so much more, its the ultimate test of rider and machine.Because I choose not to ride the Mountain circuit I shall not doubt those that do.I give them every blessing, and rejoice in their magnificent speed.

chest drain charlie
You wouldn't stop people from climbing Everest and lots die trying so why stop someone racing if that is what they want to do.They know the risks. We have 1st class facilities at Nobles and the staff here cope with all that is thrown at them. Yes it creates lots of work and hassle for everyone but it is so worth it. 99% of bikers are happy to be here and have fun and a good time. They appreciate the care they are given at Nobles, which is more than can be said for some of the locals. The TT is a fantastic time of year and I personally hope it is here to stay.


Pamela is spot-on. The TT boys will always race and we should let them. As Rosy says,they think it won't happen to them. When it happens to someone you know, you have to blank it out. But that's the way you have to think in whatever you do or you'd never venture out of your house. The best of luck to all and big respect to the medics and marshalls.

I'm with Pam, let's bring it on. We love these lads, we love the TT. The whole Buzz of this Island for the next 2 weeks is an experience everyone should live through at least once.Ride safely but know that if you come off your bike there is no better place to do it than the IOM our Medical servces are "the best". Keep on Racing.

Every year the TT races evoke the same old discussion "should the races be banned". The lads and not to forget lasses who race the roads of the Island know the risks, many have lost friends to the Island. Don't we live in enough of a nanny state already without people thinking should we ban something that the racers and spectators love.

Rosy Johnson
I hate the TT now I am over is too precious..too precious to throw away on the much too fast bikes these days. The trouble is the riders never think it will happen to them even tho' they have seen their best friends die... I always feel sorry for the wife and kids left behind...they have to live with the empty helmet for the rest of their lives. The course is dangerous now as bikes are rediculously fast...watching the TT videos (the ones with the cam on the helmet) always make me feel sick, I always thought they were speeded up until someone told me they weren't! No races for me..I'm staying in the garden to sunbathe!

Val Quayle
Let them do what they want to do you only have one life; so let them live it, doing what they want to

I think we should let people race if they want to. But what I object to is teh amount of people, just going about theiir daily business, who get hit by tourists riding on the wrong side of the road or locals just being speed freaks.

Pamela is right to be respectful of riders who have 'brought injurys upon themselves' as some people say. Just like a footballer with a groin strain, a cyclist with a broken limb & gravel rash, or someone with a fishing hook through their eye - we mustn't judge people by how they came upon their injury.Have a safe TT!

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