High schools learn the importance of preparedness after Hamlin injury



The importance of sport safety and injury prevention is learned in High Schools after a recent accident. https://unsplash.com/license

Luke Bigley and Charlie Raynor

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of all sports injuries in children are preventable. The impact of a high school sports injury can range from taking an athlete out of commission for a few days to causing chronic physical health issues for most of an athlete’s life. High school athletic departments across the United States
are working to prevent and care for injuries properly to ensure an athlete has the best path to recovery.

Emphasis on the health of student-athletes is more important than ever, after Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. During the first quarter of the Jan. 2 game, Hamlin made a routine tackle on Bengals’ wide receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin stood up after and collapsed onto the field, where CPR was immediately administered for seven minutes before an ambulance took him to the Cincinnati Medical Center. Hamlin has since recovered, but the injury showed millions of sports fans the importance of on-sight, trained medical professionals.

Without medical staff present and understanding of what to do in that situation,Hamlin could have died. Each member of the 30-person staff trained for moments like this, with NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills saying, “The EAP [emergency action plan] was followed to a letter that night. In that moment,everyone knew what they needed to do, how they needed to do it, and had the equipment to do it and felt comfortable.”

Wall High School’s athletic trainer Brendan McDermott takes pride in his job, ensuring Wall’s student athletes are treated when they have an injury and are taking the proper measures to avoid worsening injury or pain. Similar to the NFL, McDermott also has an emergency plan for different injuries.

“Wall High School has a number of different protocols for major medical emergencies. We have an Emergency Action Plan, which is a large document, it is site specific to each individual sport,” McDermott said. “So, for example, if an athlete needs an ambulance, there is a set script to follow.”

McDermott and WHS also have thorough preventative measures to avoid injury to both athletes with and without pre-existing conditions.

“All students have a physical examination before the start of the season, which then gets reviewed by our team’s sports medicine physician for approval to play. We also have RWJ Barnabas [a network of independent healthcare
providers] come and cardiac screen the students with an EKG, and refer to a cardiologist if something suspicious is found.”

Hamlin’s injury was not the result of a failed electrocardiogram, but rather a freak accident in which the victim had no pre-existing conditions. The importance of having an Emergency Action Plan allows medical personnel to be prepared
for an accident like the one seen in the Jan. 2 game.

Even though the athletic departments have extensive protocol for injuries and emergency medical issues, trainers are still open to improving the protocol and taking care of their student athletes.

“Our Emergency Action Plan is much like the constitution of the USA. It is a living document,” McDermott said. “It is set in stone and is followed exactly. However, after an emergency we do an after action report, what went wrong,
what could have gone better. We then amend it to include or exclude certain things,”

The importance of knowing how to handle a medical emergency during a sports game is now more important than ever. With the help of diligent medical professionals and understanding the protocols, a student athlete’s injury could go from a life-changing one to a routine recovery.