Janesville50°

Is there a doctor in the house?

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
November 8, 2007
— To Kilcha Negus, it seems as if her son, JR, was lying on the cold Monterey Stadium ground for a half hour.

She knows it wasn’t that long, and in reality, paramedics responded in just over six minutes from the time the 911 call was made.


JR injured his neck during the Oct. 12 game against Madison La Follette.


Football is one of those contact sports that many agree is most likely to cause injuries.


And different school districts handle emergency procedures differently.


The Department of Public Instruction requires only that an emergency procedure be in place. That could mean simply someone on site with a cell phone.


The Janesville School District contracts with Mercy Hospital to put trainers at many different sports games, including football. A doctor also is present at varsity football games.


“We don’t always have somebody at every contest, but we try to have them at the ones where we believe they’re most needed,” said Steve Schroeder, athletic director at Parker High School. Those sports include football, soccer, basketball and wrestling.


Typically, trainers aren’t present at golf and tennis matches, for instance.


At one point, the district paid for a private ambulance at varsity football games.


Now, ambulances are present at some games if crew members decide to station themselves there, knowing they must be ready to respond to an emergency elsewhere, Janesville Fire Chief Larry Grorud said.


“What we allow crews to do is attend any school events as long as they are ready for response and not boxed in,” Grorud said.


The stations designated as first response for Monterey are Station 1, 303 Milton Ave., and Station 2, 1545 S. Washington St.


If a crew from Station 3 wants to attend an event game, crews must agree to switch stations for the duration of the game.


Event organizers are charged if they want a crew dedicated to that event only. An ambulance with two paramedics to staff the approximate three-hour game would be about $340, Grorud said.


While most football injuries are not life threatening, a cardiac situation could be. Players also must be immobilized immediately for possible spinal chord injuries, Grorud said.


In Beloit, for instance, two paramedics are on site with an ambulance for varsity games, said Tim Curtis, assistant fire chief. That ambulance is called to an emergency elsewhere in the city only as a last resort.


The district is not charged for the service.


This year, Beloit school district officials also are considering whether to arrange for paramedics at hockey games, said Stan Zweifel, athletic director.


In Janesville, athletic directors from both high schools and the district athletic director, Kevin Porter, have cell phones with them at games, Schroeder said. Cell phones have improved emergency response times.


But Schroeder said he’d prefer an ambulance be on site at football games.


“It’s a high-contact sport,” he said. “The chance of injury is a lot greater, and we certainly want as quick a response time as we can. Having them right on site is optimal.”


Perhaps that is something school officials can discuss with fire department officials, he said.


Grorud said that is a possibility, but any agreement also would have to include the firefighter’s union. Anytime after 4:30 p.m. is considered firefighter leisure, or standby, time.


Meanwhile, JR Negus is thankfully just fine, and the ambulance was called mostly as a precaution.


Still, his mother wishes paramedics could have been there when the injury occurred.


“I strongly support an ambulance being there in case anything happens,” she said.



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