Teams staffed for emer­gency

Toronto pro clubs ready to han­dle Fis­cher-like cri­sis Detroit blue­liner ‘crack­ing jokes,’ says Wings GM


Toronto’s four ma­jor pro sports teams say they’re ready to han­dle a med­i­cal emer­gency like the one that nearly killed Red Wings de­fence­man Jiri Fis­cher.

Fis­cher was re­cov­er­ing in hospi­tal yes­ter­day — “ He’s ac­tu­ally crack­ing some jokes,” said team doc­tor Tony Colucci — a day af­ter his heart ap­peared to stop on the bench dur­ing a game. Colucci used a de­fib­ril­la­tor and per­formed CPR on Fis­cher.

Of­fi­cials with the Leafs, Rap­tors, Jays and Ar­gos say team doc­tors and emer­gency per­son­nel would have re­sponded sim­i­larly.

“ We’re prob­a­bly in good shape to han­dle all the even­tu­al­i­ties but we’ll dou­ble- check when we re­view ev­ery­thing prior to spring train­ing,” said Blue Jays pres­i­dent Paul God­frey. “ If it’s life- threat­en­ing, it can be the doc­tors or the paramedics ( who re­spond ini­tially). For reg­u­lar in­juries, the paramedics han­dle it. They’re well- trained. In some cases, they might be bet­ter than doc­tors; they han­dle trauma all day.” There have been con­cerns about how Toronto teams deal with med­i­cal emer­gen­cies since 2003, when Cana­dian doc­tors work­ing with NHL, NBA and ma­jor league base­ball teams lost ac­cess to na­tional group med­i­cal mal­prac­tice in­sur­ance. But Leafs GM John Fer­gu­son said team doc­tors — as well as train­ers and on- site emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice ( EMS) units — could ad­min­is­ter care in the ad­vent of a Fis­cher- like sit­u­a­tion at the Air Canada Cen­tre. Spokesman for the Rap­tors and Ar­gos also said yes­ter­day that their team doc­tors are not re­stricted in how they re­spond to an ail­ing ath­lete. The ques­tion of lim­i­ta­tions on team physi­cians arose last May when Jays catcher Gregg Zaun was knocked un­con­scious on the field at the Rogers Cen­tre af­ter a knee-to-head col­li­sion. Zaun was im­me­di­ately treated by team train­ers and staff from the Parkview Emer­gency Ser­vice, paramedics hired in 2003 by the Jays for home games. But Dr. Erin Boyn­ton, the Jays’ or­thopaedic con­sul­tant and a con­sul­tant to the Leafs and Mar­lies this sea­son, went to Zaun’s side, as did Dr. Noah For­man, the on- site physi­cian at the Rogers Cen­tre at the time and now the Leafs’ med­i­cal di­rec­tor. The Jays’ Dr. Ron Tay­lor said last night that team physi­cians are per­form­ing ex­actly as they did prior to the with­drawal of the mal­prac­tice in­sur­ance. “ There are no re­stric­tions on the qual­ity of care,” he said.

Fer­gu­son said the tim­ing of Fis­cher’s ail­ment was, if any­thing, for­tu­nate.

“ I can tell you Jiri Fis­cher is a lot bet­ter off hav­ing the con­di­tion he had on the bench in a game than any­where else . . . that’s the level of care our ath­letes are af­forded,” he said.

Fis­cher, 25, be­gan hav­ing con­vul­sions on the bench late in the first pe­riod of a game against Nashville. Colucci wasn’t able to de­tect a pulse af­ter Fis­cher col­lapsed and an auto de­fib­ril­la­tor was used on Fis­cher.

Af­ter per­form­ing CPR, Colucci said he de­tected a good pulse and Fis­cher was taken by am­bu­lance to hospi­tal. Colucci said Fis­cher’s heart might have stopped, but he didn’t know for how long. Fis­cher’s blood pres­sure and heart rate were stable by the time he got to the hospi­tal. “ There’s no way to spec­u­late on what trig­gered it,” Colucci said. The team had an­nounced to the crowd Mon­day night that Fis­cher had had a seizure, but Red Wings coach Mike Bab­cock later said Fis­cher’s heart had to be restarted.

“ His heart was stopped,” Bab­cock said.

Yes­ter­day, when asked how long Fis­cher’s heart had stopped, Colucci said: “ Some­times when you’re feel­ing for a pulse you can’t re­ally say did it stop, or does he have a very weak, thready pulse.” Red Wings GM Ken Hol­land said Fis­cher was “do­ing very, very well” yes­ter­day in a Detroit hospi­tal. But Colucci said he didn’t know how long the player would re­main there or when Fis­cher could play again.

Fis­cher was di­ag­nosed with a heart ab­nor­mal­ity in Septem­ber 2002, caus­ing him to miss two days of prac­tice. Colucci said that tests were be­ing con­ducted to de­ter­mine whether the con­vul­sions were re­lated to the ab­nor­mal­ity. The Red Wings prac­tised yes­ter­day ahead of tonight’s home game against Colorado. Af­ter­ward, play­ers and Bab­cock said their thoughts re­mained with Fis­cher.

“ You just think about how bad Jiri Fis­cher would like to be play­ing hockey,” Bab­cock said. “ We have that chance. We bet­ter make good on that chance.”


A wor­ried Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Bab­cock steps on to the bench as team physi­cian Dr. Tony Colucci, back­ground, per­forms CPR on stricken de­fence­man Jiri Fis­cher.

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