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  • Op Ed -- Salvador Had Me in Stitches


    Some of the nurses at the Posto Medico in the arena (ATR)
    (ATR) What happens at Posto Medico? It’s not a side you often see. The doctors and nurses stationed here are the unsung heroes of the World Cup, among the people working hard on the sidelines at the 12 stadiums to make sure fans have the best experience possible.

    My view of Germany’s thrilling 4-0 win over Portugal at Arena Fonte Nova wasn't the one I envisaged.

    Heading to my seat in the press box high up above the action, I stumbled and fell onto one of the ducts holding power cables, gashing two fingers on a sharp metal edge. I suffered a nasty cut but help was at hand in the form of two volunteers, one of whom escorted me to the medical post a short walk away.

    You’d have to look hard to find the Posto Medico sign – there are a few other centers dotted around the stadium. The brightly-colored concessions stands just a few yards away keep these important medical stations nearly hidden from view.

    Stepping inside, I was quickly surrounded by four nurses. It was almost comical. They don’t get many fans through these doors – 16, I was told, at this medical post for the Spain v. Holland match on Friday. But they saw I was in a bit of bother, with two bleeding fingers and clutching a cheese sandwich and bag of crisps in the other hand!

    Six nurses scurried around in a relatively small room that accommodated two beds, a filing cabinet with medications, and a desk. In one bed, a fan who had perhaps succumbed to the sweltering temperatures and needed a short lie down; in the other, a German fan, eyes swimming with drink, who was on a drip.

    Outfitted in Johnson & Johnson uniforms - the official healthcare sponsor of the World Cup - the medical staff calmly dealt with my situation.

    I watched the last 20 minutes of the first period from behind one of the goals. Terrific atmosphere (ATR)
    As the cheers grew louder and the big game kicked off, the two bed-prone men watched on as I was attended to. My cuts were washed and I was given an anesthetic before my press box wounds were stitched and dressed by the team of nurses.

    Only one of them spoke English, but that was enough. The service was as friendly and efficient as you could hope for. A form was filled in to document my case, I thanked them for their help, and I was dispatched into the stadium masses with a couple of bandages – only about 30 minutes after showing up.

    With fans throwing back pre-match beers on the concourses before the match, as temperatures climbed over 30 degrees and humidity hit 80 percent, the senior nurse told me that dehydrated fans was the main problem they were dealing with.

    I felt strangely joyous at how speedily my injury woes had been handled and, in fact, the chance to watch the last 20 minutes of the first half with fans behind one of the goals. No segregation meant German and Portuguese supporters watched the game side by side.

    I was five stitches to the good, Germany were 1-0 up, and the beer-swilling fans were in party mood. Everything was alright with the world. The second half was spent up in the media tribune. Not nearly as much fun.

    Written by Mark Bisson in Salvador

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