METHUEN — It happened in a flash, limbs tangling during a common collision between hockey players. Almost nobody nearby even knew anything was wrong.
Brady Barron, 16, a junior forward on Methuen’s varsity ice hockey team, had been cut accidentally by a skate from a Gloucester player as they fell to the ice. The blade severed an artery, 12 tendons and several nerves in his left wrist. The refs did not stop the play.
With that type of injury, seconds count.
Janielle Martin, 30, an athletic trainer and critical care nurse who was sitting on the Methuen bench, realized instinctively a serious injury had happened and flew out of the box before the play was even blown dead. The look on Barron’s face, his shout over the general sports cacophony, a drop of blood. Martin processed those clues with the eye of an ER nurse.
“He was skating towards the box, which was normal, but I saw two drops of blood, and I knew it wasn’t a nosebleed,” Martin said. “Something kicked in and I jumped on the ice.”
Only a few feet away, Martin got to Barron, elevated his arm, pressed his wrist, and tried to keep him calm. She sent for towels to compress the cut and slow the bleeding. Al Delano, a current athletic trainer at Methuen High and an anatomy teacher, ran up to the rink from a track meet happening concurrently.
A police officer, Patrolman Walter Fleming, arrived within a minute, Martin and Delano said, and Methuen Fire and EMTs followed shortly after. An EMT in the stands, a Gloucester parent, got paper towels.
“A lot of people reacted very quickly, that made this situation the best case scenario,” said associate principal Rick Borden, who cleared the path for EMTs to get onto the ice.
EMTs called ahead to Lawrence General so the trauma unit would be ready. Barron’s wrist was x-rayed, and a surgical team was prepped at Children’s Hospital in Boston. He was there by ambulance in 20 minutes.