01/09/2011 2:45PM

NYRA makes procedure changes after paddock incident


In the wake of a poor response from medical personnel to a jockey who was injured in the paddock at Aqueduct on Saturday, the New York Racing Association on Sunday implemented several new procedures designed to better serve the riders.

First, NYRA assigned a dedicated emergency medical technician to shadow the jockeys throughout a racing day. This EMT will be in the jockeys’ room, lead the riders to the paddock, and follow them back to the room after the race is run.

Second, the EMT functions will be centralized in a “command post” that will be in the first-aid trailer outside the grandstand. With the construction of the casino forcing the relocation of some first-floor offices - including first-aid - those functions had recently been moved to the third floor. There will no longer be any EMT personnel positioned on the third floor.

Third, radio checks will be conducted between the EMTs, security, and the stewards prior to every race. Previously, radio checks were conducted only at the start of each race day.

Fourth, Eileen Sullivan has been hired as the new EMT supervisor. She has worked at NYRA for six years and has been an EMT since 1978. The previous EMT supervisor, Tommy Wittmer, was planning to leave NYRA within two weeks.

Finally, one of four ambulances NYRA has on the grounds will be moved from in front of the clubhouse to the tunnel in between the jockeys’ room and the paddock.

These procedures were implemented after jockey Junior Alvarado was unattended to for several minutes after being kicked in the lower abdomen and groin by his mount, Starlantic, prior to the running of Saturday’s sixth race.

According to NYRA officials, security personnel in the paddock attempted to radio the EMTs on the third floor, but those EMTs did not hear the initial call. EMTs stationed in two ambulances on the tack are on a different frequency and did not hear the initial call. Those personnel were also slow to respond to calls from the stewards.

When no one responded to Alvarado, jockey David Cohen wrapped Alvarado in a horse blanket and carried him from the paddock to the jockeys’ room. Alvarado was later transported by ambulance to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where X-rays were taken came back negative. He was kept overnight in the hospital for precautionary reasons. Alvarado, who did not ride Sunday, was scheduled to be released Sunday afternoon and, according to his agent, Mike Monroe, will ride Wednesday.

"Speaking for not only myself, but I believe for all the other jockeys in the room, they’ve done a very good job with the changes they’ve made and at a rapid time," Cohen said. "I think they’re going to work out out very well."