By ILANA KATZ
Not all Super Bowl injuries take place on the field.
While the players get banged up on the gridiron, people in the stands sometimes get hurt too. And those injuries often have one factor in common, experts say: alcohol.
Kelly Legania, a medic who worked last year’s Super Bowl, said that slips and falls were the most common injuries to send fans to the medic last year when the Baltimore Ravens took on the San Francisco 49ers at the Superdome in New Orleans.
“The root cause was mostly from alcohol,” she said. “We also saw some nausea and vomiting, and that was caused by alcohol or people eating different foods.”
Legania also said that her company Acadian Ambulance Services began prepping a year in advance for last year’s game. “We used data from previous Super Bowls to help us figure out how many teams we would need and what type of injuries we should expect,” she said.
This is the first year that the Super Bowl is coming to a cold-weather location that is not domed, which means that fans are preparing to spend at least four hours in the cold. Temperatures for Sunday’s big game are expected to be in the upper 30s, but those numbers will drop once the sun goes down.
Dr. Joseph Feldman is the chairman of emergency services at Hackensack University Medical Center, which will be standing by at the Super Bowl this year at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. Feldman said he expects that, like last year, the most common injuries will be slips and falls, with ice a factor as well. The cold temperatures coupled with alcohol consumption could prove problematic for some fans.
“When you drink alcohol, you don’t realize that you are cold. You lose more heat and you are not able pump warm blood as well,” he said.
Feldman said fans should make sure to wear lots of layers, wear mittens instead of gloves and be prepared to avoid alcohol if they want to stay warm on Sunday.
This year, Hackensack University Medical Center will have its portable ER positioned at the Meadowlands. This portable emergency room will have seven beds along with a pharmacy, ultrasound, X-ray machines, oxygen generators and a field laboratory.
“When you’re in the portable ER, you don’t realize that you are on the flatbed of a truck because it feels like a real ER,” he said.
There will also be warm blankets, warm IV fluid and warm beverages to treat fans that come down with hypothermia. The medical team says it will be fully staffed and ready to take on whatever injuries comes their way.