Joe Fortin neck injury has McGill rethinking policies

McGill's athletic director says he's considering some changes to the university's medical policy after an ambulance took over 20 minutes to arrive after an incident on the football field.

Bishop's University football player Jonathan Fortin waited 27 minutes for ambulance

Joe Fortin, No. 20 for the Bishop's University Gaiters, suffered a neck injury Friday night. (CBC)

McGill's athletic director says he's considering some changes to the university's medical policy after an ambulance took more than 20 minutes to arrive, even though there is a hospital across the street, after a potentially-serious injury on the football field.

Jonathan Fortin was injured around 9:30 p.m. local time Friday during a game at Percival Molson stadium between his team, the Bishop's Gaiters, and the McGill Redmen.

The stadium is in downtown Montreal, across the street from the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Doctors on the scene were worried about spinal cord damage and placed him on a spinal board as a precaution. Fortin was conscious at the time.

“There were a couple minutes where the student athlete was ready to be transported and we were waiting for the ambulance,” said athletic director Drew Love.

Not paralyzed

In the end, Fortin was not paralyzed and has since been released from hospital.

Still, the injury caused an uproar about the absence of ambulances on the field during football games. Ambulances aren't mandatory at university games.

Love said medical staff members on site rehearse the spinal injury protocol before every game.

Initial moments after major trauma is critical.- Arash Madani, sports reporter at the game

He said construction on the streets near the stadium may have delayed the ambulance’s arrival.

Sports reporter Arash Madani tweeted extensively on the injury and the wait.

“Emergency protocols must be instituted IMMEDIATELY at all arenas/stadiums for amateur sport. Initial moments after major trauma is critical,” Madani tweeted on Friday night.

Love of McGill said he will meet with staff Monday morning to look at whether an ambulance should be on site for all games as a precautionary measure.

He said he will also ask Quebec’s university football league to consider changing its protocol, as well.

“We’ll go back into the office on Monday and we are going to do a complete post-mortem on that thing,” Love said.

“It raises the question, and I’d say it’s a question we should address to the league, and whether or not it’s something that the league wishes to adopt as a practice as well,” he said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.