Ushers may lack medical training

George Halim
Sports Reporter

There were two cardiac arrest incidents during Blue Jays games this year at the Rogers Centre where one man died. PHOTO BY JESSICA LAWS

When two fans suffered heart attacks at the Rogers Centre this season, the first people on scene, seat ushers, had no training and no idea how to deal with the crisis.

The first fan survived, while the second one didn’t.

On June 29, Blue Jays’ right-fielder Jose Bautista pointed out the chaos before anyone noticed, from several hundred feet away.

The second time, on Aug. 17, Chicago White Sox third-basemen Kevin Youkilis alerted umpires of the situation who then halted the game.

“It was not a good sight. It was bad,” Youkilis said in an article in the Toronto Star last month.

While the Blue Jays organization and Rogers Communications, but there lies unanswered questions.

“[The process] took a lot longer than it should have,” said Humber athletic events & program coordinator James DePoe, who was present on Aug. 17. “Working in a facility like this (Humber) with CPR training, I began to question what I was seeing,”

DePoe was horrified at how long it took the team of medics to reach the scene.

Ushers are usually the first on the scene but are the least qualified to deal with it.

“At least five minutes passed until somebody came running with a defibrillator,” DePoe recalls. “This was a 10 minute ordeal by the time he [the stricken fan] was leaving the field.”

Major news sources described it as a four-minute delay but that was a game delay. Ushers were not ready for what was in front of them.

Blue Jays Vice President Communications, Jay Stenhouse, made it clear fan safety is prioritized.

“There are 500 handheld units at all games,” Stenhouse said. “There’s coverage around the stadium, so our usher’s would recognize them (supervisors).”

That may not always be the case, according to one usher who works at the Rogers Centre.

“We’re not given anything except a pen, a rulebook and an incident report sheet,” said a game worker who wished to remain anonymous. “We don’t get any specific training when it comes to this. They should be more focused on situations like that.”

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