National Athletic Trainers' Association
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Sports Medicine at Nationwide Children's Hospital celebrates National Athletic Training Month by recognizing the many excellent Athletic Trainers that serve the patients of Nationwide Children's Sports Medicine.
“Athletic trainers are an integral part of our Sports Medicine Team at Nationwide Children's Hospital. On the playing field or court, they act as our ‘eyes and ears,’ keeping the athletes safe and healthy. They see these kids on a daily basis, know their personalities and the situation surrounding the injury and are in the best position to objectively progress them back to sport post injury.”
-Thomas L. Pommering DO., Medical Director of Sports Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Athletic trainers are allied health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. Continue reading below to find out more about National Athletic Training Month and the Athletic Trainers at Nationwide Children's Sports Medicine.
It was a bright, humid fall morning when I arrived at the high school for our annual cross country meet. The place was teaming with people. Runners were warming up. Fans were congregating under pop-up tents, coffee in hand. JV and freshman football were leaving for an away game. Parents of our baseball team, as well as the athletes themselves, were cleaning up the football stadium after the home varsity game the night before.
It was bound to be a warm day as I worked with our head athletic trainer to prepare water and ice for the meet. As he went off to the far fields with a load on the golf cart, I went inside to the athletic training room to prepare some of our athletes.
Suddenly, one of the football coaches ran into the room, with a look of horror on his face. “You might want to get out there. There are people screaming to call 911.”
I raced out the door and saw, 50 yards away, a group of people at the top of the football stadium bleachers, yelling for help. One of the other football coaches was already running toward them in response. He reached the victim, sprinting up multiple levels on the bleachers, before I did.
“Is he breathing?” I called to my coach from a few levels down.
At that point, I looked to the closest bystander, who was on their phone.
“Are you calling 911?” The bystander nodded.
The first thing they teach you in the “Chain of Survival” is early access to the victim. We had that – my CPR and first aid trained coach was up in the stands, evaluating the adult male that just collapsed. 911 had been called, and the ambulance was on its way.
The next step would be early CPR, which I was sure my coach would initiate if needed. But after that step comes early defibrillation. Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, save lives more than CPR does. In the span of a few seconds, I processed all of this, turned around, and sprinted back into the athletic training room to retrieve the AED and with it, the resuscitation mask.
Upon my return to the victim, the coach was checking the man for consciousness. We confirmed he wasn’t breathing. I checked for a pulse on his carotid artery, and when I couldn’t detect one, instructed the coach to initiate chest compressions while I retrieved the mask. After a round of compressions, I provided two ventilations, and we repeated the cycle.
To my dismay, the victim had collapsed on metal bleachers, in the 2nd row from the top of the stands. Metal transmits electric current, which meant using the AED was not an option unless we moved him. Thankfully, we could already hear the sirens of the ambulance on the way from the fire station around the corner. We continued providing CPR. When EMS arrived, we moved the victim onto a spine board, which provided a plastic barrier between the metal bleachers. They attached the AED and had to use it three times before transporting him.
Immediately after the incident, I found out that the victim was a parent of one of our athletes. My care was not done yet. A few of the athletes had witnessed the entire incident and were pretty shaken up. I stayed with them, making sure they were okay, until parents came to pick them up. After that, it was on to the cross country meet and taking care of athletes as I normally would. The rest of the day was a waiting game. When would we hear how he was doing?
It would take a couple of days to find out that the man had survived. People thanked the coach and I for a job well done. Someone used the word hero. Maybe we were, but I like to think that we just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right training and resources. It was a relief that he survived, but I knew we had done the best we possibly could have, given the circumstances, which as a healthcare provider, is what you strive for. Providing the best care possible, to whoever needs it. To me, that’s not a hero. That’s just my job.
I have to admit though, it brought a sense of accomplishment and a smile to my face to walk into a parent meeting in November to see the man and his wife, well and happy, sitting with their son, ready for a new basketball season to begin.