First aid at ball parks is last priority

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First aid at ball parks is last priority

There are many reasons why Korean athletes want to go to America or for that matter any place other than here. Baseball players, soccer players, or handball players ― they all want to leave because the money is better. Guess what? It also may be safer for them.
For more than three years, the Lotte Giants’ Lim Soo-hyuck has not uttered a word from his bed. For three years, his family has not slept well. Day and night, his wife sits beside his bed hoping that, one day, he’ll wake up from his coma.
Had the Korea Baseball Organization laid out a framework to deal with injuries at ballparks, such a tragedy might have been averted. The jury is still out on the matter, but Lim’s family argues that because Lim did not obtain proper first aid the severity of his injury increased. At least that’s what the doctor who treated Lim told a Korean sports tabloid.
Baseball is hardly the only sport with shoddy preparations for emergencies at stadiums and other sporting venues. This month, a fiasco unfolded at Chuncheonhoban Stadium in Gangwon province during a hoops match between Woori Bank and Kumho Life Insurance.
In the third quarter, Kang Hyeon-mi of Kumho was fighting for the ball when she fell down. She lay motionless, apparently in great pain.
What happened next was just too unsightly to watch. For a good five minutes no medical expert could be summoned. Then ― and I must say it was a most repulsive scene ― two officials came to the floor and tried removing her with the top of a table they had just dismantled! When that didn’t pan out they tried to use a tablecloth!
Is this for real? Somebody on the scene with a nugget of common sense finally stopped these guys. I am no medical expert but even I know that an injury, especially one to the neck as Kang had, must be carefully stabilized to avoid worsening it.
An ambulance was humming outside but the driver wasn’t to be found. Harried officials were tapping 119 on their cell phones. Onlookers and officials looked helpless, which is how I felt watching it unfold live on TV.
After 20 minutes an ambulance took Kang to the hospital and today she is all right. Lucky her. Who knows? Next time they might try to move her to the hospital on someone’s back.
The KBO has finally answered the call of the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association and assigned medical workers to its stadiums coming into this season. Why the KBO never thought of doing it themselves is beyond me.
Even so, it is not possible to drive an ambulance into Korea’s baseball stadiums. Should someone sustain a serious injury, the first few minutes are often crucial moments; the sooner expert first aid is provided the likelier is the victim’s chance of sidestepping serious injury. If I were the KBO I would do everything in my power to reconfigure every stadium enough so an ambulance can enter ― and exit ― and players don’t have to be carried out by hand. At least it ought to be big enough for those small cars that you see in American major league parks.
When our country holds international events everything is hunky-dory. But why the basic medical services are missing for domestic sports competitions puzzles me.


by Brian Lee
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