Letter to Als fans from Marcelo Lannes MD

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I write this letter to all those who kicked and punched my car and screamed insults to my face when I was trying to get to the Montreal Neurological Hospital on Sunday, Sept. 29, just after the end of an Alouettes match.

I am a physician specialized in anesthesia and critical care working at the Montreal Neurological Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital.

It happens that I am called for an emergency surgery or for patients who are in the intensive care unit. On Sept. 29, a patient was in need of emergency brain surgery and it was very difficult to reach the hospital since several access streets were blocked because of the game. I finally was able to arrive at Milton, where a police officer let me pass. Unfortunately my problems were not over. University St. was converted into a pedestrian street and a huge crowd was walking in the middle of the street toward Sherbrooke St.

As I was advancing painfully slowly, an older gentleman hit my car with his bag, and I had to come out of the car to yell that I needed to get to the hospital. I continued slowly while people still complained and blocked my way. A second police officer let me pass at the corner of Pine Ave., but without help, the situation was as bad as before.

Even when it was evident that I was going to the hospital, some people still blocked the entrance and two young men punched my car.

To the young woman who stopped the flow to let me in and afterward complained that I did not thank her, well, I say now: Thank you!

To those who delayed my arrival, I want you to know that, fortunately, your actions did not have any serious consequences, and that I hope that the day that you or a loved one are in need of an emergency operation, the people rushing to help them do not face this kind of behaviour, which can cause serious harm.

It is unacceptable that the access to an acute care hospital is blocked during any kind of event. It is not the first time that I have faced this situation and some of my colleagues have already complained to the hospital administration after they, too, were delayed because of an Alouettes game.

What will it take for the city and hospital authorities to correct this problem — a catastrophe and a recommendation from a medical examiner saying that this state of affairs is absurd and unacceptable?

It makes no sense for anyone to have to navigate a vehicle through a crowd like that: The police should have offered the doctor an escort, as they should have been made aware of this potential scenario in advance. Otherwise, the good doctor would have been better advised to park his car a few blocks away - say in the McGill campus - and walk the rest of the way.

As for the idits who vandalized his car, they are not representative of the Als fans that I am acquainted with. Sadly these morns tarnish the Als organization and all the Als fans.

The main problem here is that the people "blocking" the eminent doctor could not possibly have known who he was and where and why he was driving in a designated pedestrian zone.

MDs and other medical professionals should be issued with a portable flashing dome light they can put on their car, a front license plate that identifies them as medical professionals, and, if deemed necessary, a siren.

Imagine that one of our loved ones was denied immediate access to the Neuro because their medical emergency coincided with an Als' home game and the ambulance was impeded by thousands of fans? How do you spell lawsuit?

My second point deals with the site of the stadium - FACING THE NEURO!!!! Now, I'm not entirely sure of the history of McGill Stadium, which was in place first...etc. However, the fact remains that a football stadium situated in tbe middle of a hospital zone, simply put, is STUPID!!!! We should have a proper stadium easily accessible (which our current stadium is not!), and well serviced by public transportation.


If there's a stadium in North America that's well served by public transit, Percival Molson is it. The shuttle service with its pick-up points at 2 metro stations is efficient and quick. What we have here is a model for mass transit and active transportation (eg, walking).

McGill stadium ain't moving. The Royal Vic is. If the Neuro follows, that will take care of the problem. Otherwise, I think a police escort (there were dozens if not hundreds of police out there) would have easily taken care of the problem.

The real issue here is police inaction.

Je trouve que les gens qui auraient vandalisé la voiture du médecin sont carrément stupides d'avoir posé de tels gestes. On peut exprimer sa réprobation sans porter atteinte aux gens, et c'est ce à quoi on devrait s'attendre dans nos sociétés démocratiques.

Il est par ailleurs manifeste que de prendre sa voiture pour circuler dans une voie remplie de piétons et temporairement fermée à la circulation est un mauvais choix de déplacement. Je ne sais pas si le médecin devait transporter un attirail tel qu'il ne pouvait se rendre à l'hôpital sans voiture, mais l'efficacité aurait commandé qu'il monte la côte à pied, ce qui lui aurait évité ces désagréments déplacés.

Cela dit, est-ce que le bon docteur se serait plaint d'un bouchon de circulation plus éloigné qui l'aurait empêché de se rendre à l'hôpital à temps? Il l'aurait sans doute déploré, mais n'aurait pas eu le choix que de considérer ça comme un des aléas de la vie urbaine. J'ai une tante qui travaille au "Neuro", comme elle dit. Lorsqu'elle commence son quart et qu'il y a une partie, elle se donne la peine de partir encore plus d'avance, sachant qu'il lui sera plus difficile d'accéder à son lieu de travail. Je ne sais pas si le médecin était appelé en urgence ou si c'était son quart régulier, mais il ne serait pas mauvais non plus de prévoir cet inconvénient.

Cela dit, j'ai peut-être une suggestion pour aider à contenter tout le monde : plutôt que de fermer la rue University à la circulation, la Ville pourrait fermer le tronçon de la rue Milton entre University et Durocher et fermer le tronçon de la rue Durocher de Milton à des Pins. Il ne suffirait alors que de créer un passage sous supervision policière sur l'avenue des Pins à l'angle de Durocher. Les piétons auraient ainsi un passage sécurisé plus large que le trottoir et l'accès à l'hôpital serait plus normal. Ce serait sans doute alors les citoyens du quartier qui s'en plaindraient alors, comme quoi on ne pourra pas faire que des heuerux avec cette situation...

When I was a kid going to games at Molson Stadium with my Dad in the late 50s, early 60s, there were a couple of occasions where games were interrupted so that a helicopter could land on the field to bring patients to the Neuro.

Nice post ! People just need to be civil.