After the drama of Alabama’s win over LSU Saturday, the Crimson Tide’s team doctors were called to action on the way home.
Following the game, Alabama’s team doctors were leaving Tiger Stadium in a multiple car motorcade led by LSU police. A few miles from the stadium, one officer on a motorcycle was struck by a car. The doctors who had recently attended to Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon’s twisted ankle on the field had to revert to their trauma training on the side of the road.
The officer was lying on his side, unresponsive and obviously hurt.
“Fortunately for him there were three physicians who had taken care of trauma before,” Dr. Norman Waldrop said. “As an orthopedic surgeon you’ve seen lots of trauma. It’s not a part of my everyday practice now but I remember thinking it was coming back to me pretty quickly about what to do.”
Dr. Lyle Cain is the head team doctor for Alabama, Waldrop handles foot and ankle injuries for the team, and Dr. Benton Emblom covers shoulders, hips and knees. The doctors are a part of the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama, but travel with the Crimson Tide wherever they go.
When the doctors arrived at the scene, Cain took over and led the team as they attended to the officer on the side of the road, who ended up having a broken leg, broken arm and fractured ribs. The doctors were without any of their equipment — it was on the plane with the football team — but did what they could given the circumstances.
“I think he probably would’ve been ok but you would like to think that we had a small part in stabilizing him,” Waldrop said. “I do remember thinking that between Dr. Cain, myself and Dr. Emblom, that the communication was very good, we all knew what we were doing and it certainly helped smooth things out and helped keep everyone around it calm.”
The difference between a football injury and a traumatic automotive accident can be drastic, but Cain said the doctors handled the roadside scene like they would on a football field after a serious injury.
“It’s really similar to to the checklist we do with athletes,” Cain said. “You have to stay organized in that situation or it turns into a fire drill.”
The officer had surgery that night to repair some of the injuries, and is recovering in stable condition.
Making it back to Birmingham without any other excitement, Waldrop called it the wildest two hours he’s experienced as a team doctor for Alabama.
“We were an hour out of a huge win in front of 100,000 people and you immediately forget about that when you’re trying to save someone’s life,” Waldrop said. “That’s a whole lot more important than a football game.”