Saturday 19 January 2019

MMA fighter's death an 'isolated incident', claims Irish Red Cross

Tragic Joao Carvalho
Tragic Joao Carvalho

The Irish Red Cross revised its protocol on how its ambulances are operated after tragic MMA fighter Joao Carvalho was transferred to hospital on the floor of a vehicle while in a critical condition.

The 28-year-old Portuguese national became ill after a bout at the National Boxing Stadium on April 9, 2016, and was pronounced dead two days later.

He suffered 41 blows to the head in what was described an "intense" fight.


An inquest on Thursday heard how Mr Carvalho was transferred to hospital on the floor of the ambulance, which the Irish Red Cross said was an "isolated incident" and that its members were advised by EventMed personnel.

A spokeswoman for the charity said a review was carried out in the wake of the incident and revised protocols were issued.

"The incident involving Mr Carvalho on April 9, 2016, was an isolated incident," the spokeswoman told the Herald.

"On the night in question, the Irish Red Cross volunteers were operating under the clinical direction of a medical team installed by EventMed, who took responsibility and put Joao Carvalho into the Irish Red Cross ambulance.

"In line with statutory guidance, clinical lead rests with the highest clinically-qualified personnel present.

"In the aftermath of the incident, the Irish Red Cross conducted an internal review and issued revised protocols in relation to the operating of Irish Red Cross ambulances and the involvement of event medical agencies."

The charity also extended its sympathies to Mr Carvalho's family and friends.

EventMed owner and paramedic, Kate Michlic, told the inquest this week that it was her decision to place Mr Carvalho on the floor for the transfer.

Asked how the patient got on the floor, she said: "I did not ask why."

A report by Sport Ireland on a working group with the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA) has also raised questions on how such events can be regulated without a formal body.


MMA is not yet recognised in this country, with Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy stating that efforts have been made for MMA leaders to "get themselves organised" since 2014.

Following the inquest, Sport Minister Shane Ross accused MMA leaders of "dragging their feet" over establishing adequate safety standards.

Mr Ross has also described the absence of a national governing body for MMA in Ireland as "unacceptable".

"It is absolutely crucial that the sports bodies do everything they can to protect the safety and welfare of their members," the minister added.

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