Dr Kelvin Chew, Senior Consultant, Sport and Exercise Medicine Department at Changi General Hospital (CGH), was named the Best Medical Officer of Federation Internationale de L’Automobile, in recognition for his work as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the Singapore Grand Prix.

Dr Chew started off as an understudy CMO in 2008 only to take over the role in the next year. With more than a decade of experience, it is surprising that he does not have any interest in motor racing. He much prefers rugby but his rugby career was prematurely cut short when his mother pulled him out of the school team when she found out.. His passion for sports continued with his involvement as the team physician of various sports’ teams and in organising major sporting events like the Singapore Rugby 7s and the Singapore Marathons (as it was known previously). 

Motivating the Ground

When asked about his win, Dr Chew said, “It shows the trust and belief in the Singapore medical team running the event. More importantly, this award should go to every volunteer of the team that made the event a success.”

Dr Chew further shared that he gained much satisfaction from coordination, training and mobilisation of the team of more than 100 medical volunteers to care for the drivers, crew and marshals in the circuit.  Every year, months are spent on developing contingency plans with different possible scenarios, while managing staff and collaborating with various national agencies. However, as with all plans, hiccups do happen. In 2008, food was not planned and catered for the volunteers, resulting in a mad scramble to ensure that  staff and volunteers were fed.

Dr Chew also takes it upon himself to learn about the constant changes to race procedures and familiarise himself with the technical aspects of the cars.This is important for training medical teams in the appropriate management of an incident, for example, the  medical extrication of a driver out of a car. While his role as CMO confines him to race control, Dr Kelvin much prefers to walk the ground.  The  support category races,run by the deputy CMOs, gives him the opportunity to do so and he goes about, quite literally, armed with lollipops and ice cream for the volunteers and spend time with them at the track posts. The camaraderie has extended beyond the track, with volunteers becoming friends.

“This event involves long hours and our volunteers sacrifice much and are frequently in uncomfortable conditions. The CMO must not only engage and motivate but more importantly take care of the team, not only in terms of welfare but also providing them with adequate training in motorsport medicine, as well as in knowledge of track craft and safety. The track can be a very dangerous environment if you do not know the rules.”

Dr Kelvin Chew
Senior Consultant
Sport and Exercise Medicine Department
Changi General Hospital