The secretary of state in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI), Raed Arafat said that serious irregularities were found after the control on Saturday by the Emergency Situations Department DSU), alongside the Health Ministry, in the case of the 26 y. o. soccer player Patrick Ekeng, who died on pitch.
“(…) What I could say so far is that serious breaches were found, but I won’t say anything until my colleagues final report is available. These breaches mean that somebody has not observed the regulations and the legislation or after they got an authorization, they have modified something and did not observe further what at the moment of authorization was visibly correct,” on Saturday night said Raed Arafat in a Antena3 private television’s broadcast.
He specified that following several checks to the private ambulance services, many functioning authorizations were cancelled and huge fines were given.
According to Arafat, it is easy to notice whether a patient has been subdued to any resuscitation maneuvers and added that a patient in cardio-respiratory arrest and lacking pulse is resuscitated on the spot.
The secretary of state also said that in accordance with the Sports Law, such competitions require the presence of a type B medical team with ambulance endowed with defibrillator, a resuscitation kit, oxygen, aspiration kit.
“The FRF (Romanian Football Federation – author’s note) is a bit general, it says ambulance, but the law (the Sports Law – ed. n.) is very clear and above any rules. The law says the ambulance should at least be of the level of a qualified first aid crew of B-type. The B-type ambulance, its gear: defibrillator, a resuscitation kit, oxygen, aspiration kit – are mandatory. These things must not miss from a B-type ambulance, or else it is not B-type anymore,” Raed Arafat stressed.
Dinamo midfielder Patrick Ekeng collapses during game
Friday evening was a bleak evening for the Romanian world of football. FC Dinamo’s Patrick Ekeng died after he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field in the 70th minute of Dinamo’s game against Viitorul Constanta.
Ekeng collapsed out of the blue, in the middle of the field. He had entered the game just 7 minutes earlier and had not even made a lot of effort. Seven minutes later, he arrived at the hospital, with resuscitation manoeuvres performed by team doctor Liviu Batineanu in the ambulance. He was pronounced dead after 75 minutes of resuscitation at the Floreasca Emergency Hospital. Ten doctors tried to resuscitate him, managing to get his heart working again but only temporarily.
Dinamo Sports Director Ionel Danciulescu summed up everything: “It’s as if we are cursed.”
“He underwent medical checkups every 6 months and things were all right. We are simply… It’s as if we are cursed! It’s a nightmare! His wife is in France, we managed to contact her. She will probably arrive here tomorrow. We don’t know exactly what happened after he collapsed, we were desperate. Doctor Batineanu wanted to help him, he turned him on his side so as not to swallow his tongue. It’s as if time came to a standstill. This night the body will be taken to the Forensic Medicine Institute and the autopsy will be performed,” Ionel Danciulescu stated shortly after the official announcement concerning Patrick Ekeng’s death.
Dr. Cristian Pandrea, from the Floreasca Hospital, stated that the resuscitation manoeuvres lasted well over an hour but the patient was non-responsive. The cause of death will be established following the autopsy, and will be revealed on Monday.
“He was brought to us by ambulance, without resuscitation manoeuvres as far as we know. Resuscitation manoeuvres were started and lasted approximately one and a half hours. Unfortunately, these manoeuvres were without result. The patient died,” Floreasca Hospital’s Dr. Cristian Pandrea stated.
Asked why resuscitation manoeuvres were not performed on the football field, Dinamo FC doctor Liviu Batineanu stated that “resuscitation was performed in the ambulance.”
Dr. Liviu Batineanu talked about the way he reacted when Patrick Ekeng collapsed.
The doctor explained that cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the clearing of airways is called for in such situations. “I was there with him, I saw that cardiac arrest had occurred and I quickly said it was an emergency. Resuscitation is performed until the moment you reach hospital. Resuscitation was performed in the ambulance. Through chest compression. I don’t know whether there were defibrillators or not, but the main method of resuscitation is chest compression. He received it in the ambulance and then for 1 hour and a half. I performed resuscitation manoeuvres. When the ambulance arrived, I immediately put him on the stretcher. I don’t know the time that elapsed from the moment I arrived up until the ambulance showed up. There are causes that cannot be explained, in sport there is sudden death. There has to be an explanation too, it will come in the following days. I believe there was a doctor in the ambulance. When they arrived, I put him on the stretcher and directly into the ambulance and I started chest compressions there. I believe we got to the hospital in one or two minutes,” Liviu Batineanu stated.
Criminal probe into suspicious death
On Saturday, the authorities opened a criminal probe, in a case of suspicious death, after Cameroon’s Patrick Ekeng died. Patrick Ekeng, who went into cardiac arrest during a game on Friday evening, died at Floreasca Hospital after doctors unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate him.
Homicide Service officers are investigating the conditions in which the player died and will conduct hearings. The doctor present in the private ambulance, the ambulance’s driver, the football team’s medical staff and other club representatives will be heard as part of the investigation.
Police officers will establish why the ambulance went on the field after three minutes. Witnesses claim the ambulance was not equipped with a defibrillator.
The case of Patrick Ekeng’s death is investigated by Homicide Service officers after allegations surfaced that the ambulance was not properly equipped. Moreover, there are allegations that the doctor that should have been in the ambulance giving the player first aid was in the stadium’s stands, eating sunflower seeds and smoking.
Some fans claim that the doctors did not intervene urgently when the player collapsed. “The driver of the ambulance was not accompanied by a doctor. The doctor was smoking,” a fan stated.
On Friday evening, police officers seized several documents from the headquarters of the Puls private ambulance service, whose ambulance was deployed at the game, but also from the Dinamo football club, shortly after the player was urgently taken to the Floreasca Hospital, in cardiac arrest.
Dozens of fans gathered outside the hospital on Friday night and placed scarves and t-shirts bearing Dinamo club’s symbols. Likewise, shortly after the tragedy that aggrieved all teammates and fans, Dinamo fans gathered at the stadium and set up a shrine where Ekeng collapsed on the field.
Patrick Ekeng (26) signed for Dinamo this winter. He was married and had a two-year-old girl and his wife was pregnant with a second child.
Dinamo midfielder’s death given coverage worldwide
The news about the death of Dinamo player Patrick Ekeng was given wide coverage worldwide. Gazetta dello Sport extensively covered the death of the player, while BBC headlined on its website: Cameroon’s Ekeng dies after collapse.
‘Marca’ wrote that “Football is again in mourning,” and reminded in the “Sudden death in football” article that Patrick Ekeng played for Spain’s Cordoba. In the same article, ‘Marca’ mentioned another tragedy that took place on a football field in Romania, namely the death of Catalin Haldan in 2007, but also the names of three other football players that died tragically on the football field – Cameroon’s Foe and Spain’s Puerta and Jarque.
‘El Mundo Deportivo’ widely covered the tragedy, journalists writing that “the ambulance needed three minutes to reach the football player, who died despite the fact that the hospital was right next to the stadium.”
France’s ‘L’Equipe’ wrote that “Patrick Ekeng’s death is not a new case.” French journalists mentioned in their turn other tragedies that hit the world of football, such as the deaths of Antonio Puerta, Serginho, Endurance Idahor and Gregory Mertens.
The Telegraph’s article about the death of Cameroon’s Ekeng was also the most read on the newspaper’s website. British journalists quote Dinamo Sports Director Ionel Danciulescu and point out that the doctors did not manage to resuscitate the football player before he was taken to hospital.
AFP wrote about Ekeng’s death too, “a Cameroonian player that played for Le Mans from 2009 to 2013.”