Feb 8, 2019
Emergency Plan Enacted: A lesson in preparedness
By Training & Conditioning

It was the scariest of situations. Matt Stief, a junior defender on the Canisius College men’s ice hockey team, skated into the corner and collided with North Dakota’s Jordan Kawaguchi. As Kawaguchi fell, his skate came up and caught Stief in the neck, narrowly missing his jugular vein and carotid artery. Fortunately, the medical personnel present were prepared for exactly this type of situation, as reported by College Hockey News.

Even though the injury could have been worse, it was still very serious. Stief immediately pulled off his glove, felt the blood on his neck, and skated off the ice towards the bench. That’s when the emergency action plan kicked in.

“Our plan is just an emergency action plan that we review at the beginning of the season,” Canisius athletic trainer Mike Ziemer, ATC, told CollegeHockeyNews.com. “All the doctors are there, the EMTs and their staff are there, so we just practice it and hope that it never happens. The one time it does, we can move pretty quickly and efficiently to get him the proper care as quickly as possible.”

Ziemer admits that the injury was frightening at first, but having rehearsed the emergency protocols he knew exactly what to do.

“The way he came off quickly, and the way he was holding the area was kind of alarming at that point,” Ziemer said. “So I’m standing on the bench, ready to get him. We see what it is, the severity of it, and we start the protocol.”

To add to the already challenging situation, Ziemer had to clear the packed bench and tend to Sief under the gaze of a crowded arena. Yet, despite the challenges, Ziermer, the North Dakota team doctor, and local EMTs were quickly able to get Stief on a stretcher and transported out of the stadium. Ziemer credited North Dakota’s medical staff and the EMTs from Twin City Ambulance for their work as the situation unfolded.

“It was a little bit tough, because the bench has to clear and there’s the crowding effect; there were a lot of people at the game,” Ziemer said. “[The North Dakota] doctor was on the bench, so he was able to come over and look at him first. At that point we were already enacting our emergency action plan. He [Stief] was then put onto the stretcher on the bench where we kind of prepped him to go and took him out.”

Once Stief arrived at a local hospital, he received about 40 stitches and was released that night.

“I can’t thank Mike Ziemer and our training staff and North Dakota’s staff enough,” Stief said. “What it could have been, right? I’m just thankful.”

Two weeks later and Stief was already back on the ice helping his team to a 6-4 victory over Robert Morris. Though the cut took some tending to, the scar is already beginning to fade.

“It was obviously weird at first,” Stief said. “Just a weird spot. It was a bit sore for the first few days, but it kept getting better. I kept taking care of it and doing stuff with Z [Ziemer]. Luckily, it wasn’t a huge a cut and I was able to get the stitches out in a week and cleared right away.”

Ziemer knows how close the skate was to hitting “a lot of the scarier parts of the body.” But it was a reminder of how important it is to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

“Those are the ones you kind of play over in your mind, what to do very quickly, so you kind of prepare for it to hopefully never happen,” Ziemer said. “I like to stay out of the limelight as much as possible.”

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