09.12.2018 23:04

Young ice-hockey players heal faster from injuries than from sadness

Autor: Vanesa Čierna | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

I meet Kiko on Saturday at eight in the morning close to the stadium. I feel the fear starting to creep in. ‘Don’t worry, the kids have all sorts of pads to protect them. Nothing serious can happen to them,’ he explains. The only things that calm me down are his experience and international rescue worker certificate.

Kiko is seventeen years old. He works as a part of an emergency crew at ice-hockey games for kids in Banská Bystrica. I decided to try this job myself today. But until now I haven‘t fully realize the responsibility. My heart is racing and my hands are shaky. We are overseeing the matches of fifth and sixth graders today.


After our arrival to the stadium Kiko turns the alarm off, and unlocks the emergency room and lockers filled with equipment which is unknown to me. We put on orange vests with the symbol of emergency crew – a snake winding around a stick. While he checks the backpack we will bring with us, I examine what is inside. Sprays, gauzes, creams, bandages and other things I am seeing for the first time.


Before I can ask what even those things are for, he is bringing me to meet the referees. ‘According to the rules there has to be at least one rescuer, that’s why we have to sign up,’ he says, making it clearer for me. If no one signs up, the home team – kids from Bystrica – loses.


Our next stop is still not the match itself. Kiko says we are on the way to get the most important healing aid. We need to get snow from the machines that keep the rink smooth. Then we pack it into plastic bags to use it for kids’ grazes. ‘It works for almost everything,’ he says.



When I see the fifth graders, who play first today, I have to smile. Even though the skates add to their height and the equipment makes an impression of manly shoulders, they are still kids. Their opponents from Martin are even smaller. Their coach is frowning all the time. In less than two minutes Martin’s team is losing. ‘Christ, what have you done there? You want to play? I will think about it next time,’ the coach says to his ward. Everyone can hear that, for he did not say it silently.


While I watch the supporting parents, Kiko has disappeared. I found him quickly, he was squatting next to a kid from Bystrica and wave at me. I take one of the cold bags with snow and go to him. ‘Here, on the thigh,’ says the kid when asked where does it hurt. Kiko put the bag on the spot and we leave. ‘Is that it?’ I ask. He doesn’t even look at me when he answers, he is so focused on the game. ‘Yes, he will go back on the ice in a second.’


We talk and don’t realize that the Martin coach yells more and more and does not avoid swear words. His team losing 7:3. Kiko points at a player who is seated, holds his belly and cries. ‘Go talk to him. If it’s serious, I’ll come,’ he sends me on a quest. I shyly approach him. ‘What happened to you?’ Big tears are rolling down the small face. Silence. Sobs. ‘Did the puck hit your stomach?’ I try again. But the answer is the same, non-existing.


I start to comprehend the tears. No emergency training or workshop can help me now. While Kiko is a rescuer, I unofficially become a comforter. I try to ask one more time, this time as kindly as possible. ‘Honey, is there something bothering you?’ The boy takes off his helmet and at once wipes sweat, tears and snots off his face. ‘I am sad because we’re losing,’ he manages to say in between the sobs. I try to solace him and become angrier and angrier at his coach. How can one develop love to sports through insults and screaming?


In between the matches we have a break. Me and Kiko make ourselves tea. We finally have a chance for a proper talk. He reveals that he would have liked to become a medicine student but his father did not supported this. He runs his own company and wished his kids to take after him. ‘As I started to work here, he understood that helping others is what I want to do,’ he says. Plus he does not work for free, today he makes 20 euros. ‘But I would also do it for free,’ he says.


For the second match we arrive in the second minute. Yelling can be heard already. I don’t even have to look to know who is screaming – it’s the coach of the guest team. After the first third they are losing by two goals. The pressure on the kids is getting higher. ‘Where are you going? You ruined nine out of ten chances today, you are done for the day,’ he says to a player that is going to sit down on the bench.


One moment later Kiko runs to the rink. After a bump to the barrier one of the Martin player is lying on the ice. The coach froze. I froze even more. The parents stopped cheering. Is it serious? Should I get the backpack and run to him? I start to panic. I see Kiko standing up and, fortunately, the boy stands up too. They head to the bench. I take the snow bag, but I see Kiko getting gauze from his pocket and I know that snow is useless. The blood is running.


I come to them and together we put the boy on the bench. The blood is still running from underneath the helmet. We see that his ear is split a little bit. The panic is growing. The boy’s breath gets thicker. He is shocked.  ‘Emergency room, now,’ Kiko commands. We have to make way through curious co-players. Referees whistle. The show must go on.


In the emergency room Kiko searches for disinfection and sterile gauze, I do the talking. The boy is called Noro and is crying. He has seen the blood. I try to change the focus of his mind. I try to find out if he came with someone adult because the ear needs to be put together in a hospital. His father came in shortly afterwards and comforts his son together with me. We are pretty successful. Kiko explains the situation and mentions sewing. The hysterical cry follows. ‘I don’t want sewing, that’s gonna hurt. Dad, I don’t want them to sew it. Please,’ begs the boy while looking at his father with hope. He looks at me. I assure him it doesn’t hurt at all. No one believes me, but he stops crying and they leave for the hospital.


We return to the rink. Three minutes are left and it’s clear that Bystrica will win the second game too. Martin coach shakes his head in disbelief. He didn’t finish watching the game and went to see Noro instead. Me and Kiko check if we are needed for anyone else, take our stuff and go back to the emergency room.


It’s 2pm and we are free. I feel very relieved. Kiko puts things back into order, I wipe Noro’s blood from the bed. We casually evaluate the day. ‘Normally there aren’t so many injuries. I haven’t had a split ear before,’ he explains. We take off emergency vests and leave.


Only on the way home I realize what Kiko meant that money isn’t the reason he keeps coming in. I feel the same way, the feeling of helping is priceless.

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