The crowd, the noise, the powerful engines in cars that exceed 200 mph can overwhelm the senses of just about anyone at a NASCAR race.
When an emergency hits, such as a car flipping in the air from an accident, the sounds come to an instant stop. A hush envelops the crowd, and the emergency team takes over.
One of those crew members is a 21-year veteran with the Charlotte Fire Department, Aaron Webb.
"I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a firefighter," Webb said. "When I was three years-old, my mom said I was a kid that went nuts over fire trucks."
A native Charlottean, Webb joined the fire department when he was 19, and has spent the majority of his time at Station 10 on Wilkinson Boulevard.
Not long after becoming a firefighter, Webb said a severe storm hit the area. With downed power lines, trees toppled, homes destroyed, he and his crew were called into action.
Arriving at a location with so much devastation can be overwhelming, but on this day, this call to service was the validation for Webb that he had chosen the right career.
"We pulled up, and I locked eyes with a little girl who was maybe four or five years-old. The look of relief and hope that she got when she saw us pull up was one that I've never forgotten," Webb said. "That look that she gave me—she probably didn't quite even understand the situation, but she knew that we were there to help.
You might think the constant call to duty with Charlotte Fire would be enough to keep him occupied, but for the past two years, Webb has been part of NASCAR's on-track incident response safety team at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The team, along with NASCAR Track Services, provides immediate response, assessment and care during on-track incidents.
"When we get on the track, I'm just thinking about trying to stay two steps ahead of the situation," Webb said. "You always train for the worst-case scenario so that when the worst-case scenario happens, you're ready for it."
The first race Webb worked, a car flipped down the front stretch. It caught fire with the driver still inside the vehicle.
"We pulled the driver out of the car, and he ended up having second- and third-degree burns. Luckily, he survived." Webb said.
First responders dedicate their lives to protecting and serving others. Webb is no exception.
"I always loved helping people," he said. "That is why firefighters take the risk. That's why you do all the things and make the sacrifices."
Our front-line staff put their lives on the line every day, and that selflessness extends outside the workplace.
Learn more about becoming part of the team at Charlotte Fire Department.