Team of heroes saving lives at Millwall FC

Tuesday, 15 June, 2010

"Unsung Heroes" - Millwall's matchday medical team at The New Den

From headaches to heart attacks, medics
look after 20,000 fans on match days

On a typical football match day, the referee and his assistants are responsible for the safety of the 22 players on the pitch.

But a medical services team faces a far greater challenge - looking after the health and well-being of a stadium packed with fans young and old.

At Millwall Football Club's New Den stadium in South London, the home and away supporters can total more than 20,000 people.

The job of looking after them falls to Dr Alison Leary, who co-ordinates the Football League club's Matchday Medical Services Team (MMST).

Dr Leary said: "We provide medical care for home and away fans, ensuring they can focus on the football and enjoy their day.

"On a routine matchday, our team comprises of 15 to 20 staff, although this can rise if we are advised by the police to bring in some extra help.

"In the MMST there will always be at least one Advanced Life Support (ALS) trained physician, two ALS trained nurses, and 15 members from St John Ambulance. The London Ambulance Service also supports us at high category games and provide expert input into our planning. Our colleagues from Deptford Ambulance station are integral to our team."

"We have two dedicated treatment centres at the stadium, equipped with defibrillators and a full range of medical equipment.

"For cases that require specialist attention, St John Ambulance provides hospital transport for fans and players alike.

"The most common complaints are headaches and migraines, minor lacerations, abdominal pain, joint problems or joint injury - often caused by trips or falls.

"A few years ago, we had a patient go into respiratory arrest as a result of a blood clot. Emergency surgery was provided at the back of the North Stand, which proved life-saving.

"This season we have treated over 80 patients, with some of the more serious cases involving heart attacks and fits."
But there are lighter moments.

Dr Leary, a lifelong Millwall fan, explained: "There was one bizarre case of a female fan who complained about her skin turning blue.

"We pointed out that it was because of the dye running from her new jeans!"
Football League attendances for the 2009/10 season totalled more than 17 million fans.

Director of External Affairs Gavin Megaw has expressed gratitude for the work undertaken by medical personnel at each of the League's 72 clubs.

He said: "On behalf of The Football League, I'd like to thank the club medical staff and St John Ambulance crews, who provide vital care to fans on matchdays.

"It is because of the hard work of these unsung heroes that fans can enjoy Football League matches in a safe and friendly environment."

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