Advanced paramedic shares insight into post-fight care for MMA fighters

Glenn Ellis of Code Blue discusses issues surrounding tragic death of Joao Carvalho in Dublin

BY Raf Diallo 18:07 Tuesday 12 April 2016, 18:07 12 Apr 2016

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Since his death was announced last night, tributes have poured in for Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho who passed away on Monday night at Beaumont Hospital.

Prior to his death, he was rushed to hospital after telling medical staff he felt unwell after a bout with Irish fighter, Charlie Ward, after a Mixed Martial Arts event in Dublin.

On this evening's Right Hook, advanced paramedic Glenn Ellis of Code Blue joined George to talk about the level of care afforded to MMA fighters at events.

"When Code Blue is at an MMA event here in Ireland, we have specially trained consultants and specialist registrars cage side to be able to carry out a procedure. We have the relevant drugs and the relevant equipment, advanced paramedic care ambulance to take control of the patient and transfer him to a neurological hospital safely. That's the level we are at and there's not many sports, I believe, will have that level of care by their field," said Ellis. 

He also added that in fights covered by Code Blue, they would send fighters who suffered a TKO to have a CT scan after a fight.

"So for the likes of BAMMA and UFC who came here and in the future for homegrown sports, every fighter that has a TKO and a KO afterwards, whether they look fine or not will be sent to a private hospital there and then and have a CT scan carried out.


"On Saturday night, the fighter started to deteriorate while that decision is being made and what it appears, the ringside medical physicians took control of that patient and immediately guided him into the Beaumont Hospital."

Ellis also clarified the difference between boxing and MMA when it comes to the standing count.

"So if you look a the video, you'll see the fighter Carvalho's hand is up to the side of his face and his hand is still moving. The other fighter, Ward, is actually hitting his hand. It's not actually hitting his face. He's protecting it. It's only when Carvalho's hand stays still - it doesn't continue to protect himself - that's when the referee steps in," he said, explaining that a boxing fight can continue after that point following an eight count by the referee.

Ellis also explained that in his three years covering MMA events, the most serious injury he has witnessed is a broken jaw.

"I've never had to carry out a rapid sequence induction by the side of the cage," he said, also saying that there is a need for a professional organisation to regulate the sport.

"Currently the pro side of it is not regulated. There's no overseeing body and the Minister for Sport commented on this recently," said Ellis.


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