Part 1: Is Your Child Safe? The Current State of Sports Safety in the U.S.
"I'll always regret that Kelli and I relied on chance and luck when we signed up our son for football, and I'm going to tell you that way doesn't work."
Frank Cutinella, father of Tom Cutinella, a high school football player who died after a helmet to helmet hit.
"You don't think it's going to happen to you,” said Kristy. “You hear about it happening a million miles away to somebody else. in another state, you don't know the situation. You never think it's going to happen to your kids or even anyone you know.” (Source)
"I sort of just sit there, secretly hoping at the end of every game that they walk of the field in one piece" (Video)
"you try and you pray for the kids every game like we do, to be safe, be healthy" (Article)
Our goal is to provide you with the tools to take the necessary action to make sports safety a reality.
Is your school or league prepared?
Don't hope and pray - prepare and act like above!
"...many parents don't realize how under-resourced the medical care is for their child's team until they're facing an injured child and a dearth of options."
What is "the most vital and important subject" and the "top priority" of the California Interscholastic Federation? Sports Safety!
When reading the article, please keep this statement by Dr. Doug Casa of the Korey Stringer Institute in mind,
"Nearly all of the causes of death in sport are influenced by the care [provided] in the first five to seven minutes."
Is there Medical Staff at Your Child's Game or Practice?
The likelihood of having trained medical personnel at practices and games was called an “overwhelming challenge” by the National Federation of State High School Sports Associations (NFHS) (Ref). The National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA) states that only 37% of all high schools have even one full time athletic trainer and 30% of all high schools have no athletic training services whatsoever (Ref).
This begs the question, if there is only one ATC per school and there are about 8 – 12 sports per season in high school, which sport gets the trainer? And who takes care of the other sports?
"In those situations where a full-time trainer is not an option, schools must assign those duties to other individuals and develop an alternate plan for dealing with catastrophic injuries." (Ref)
What is this “alternate plan?”
Are Your Children's Coaches Trained in Sports Safety?
The National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA) says,
"Secondary schools without AT(C) services rely on sports coaches and administrators, such as athletic directors, to determine proper medical treatment when injuries and emergencies arise during a practice or competition. Unfortunately, most coaches do not have the proper medical education to treat injuries or recognize the common causes of life-threatening medical conditions, which puts the lives of athletes in jeopardy. Moreover, if coaches do recognize a medical emergency is present, they are not trained to treat life-threatening conditions, and it should not be their responsibility to do so [emphasis added]" (Ref)
However, when surveyed, most Athletic Directors had a different viewpoint.
They “believed the secondary school coach had sufficient knowledge and training to address the medical needs of student-athletes without an AT." (Ref)
Yet, even the most highly trained person can make an error under the stress of an on-the-field emergency. Read Case 1: Weiss v Pratt, Florida, 2011
So, if there are not enough athletic trainers to cover all the school sports and the coaches do not have the training or education to "treat life-threatening conditions" and "it should not be their responsibility to do so," who is caring for our children?
In the best case scenario, we are attempting to educate coaches with a biannual CPR course and an annual CDC concussion video. This is certainly better than nothing. But, is that training even close to enough to prepare that coach for an on the field emergency? Or to recognize an injury on the sidelines?
Even highly trained paramedics need regular training, practice, not just years of experience in handling cardiac arrest.
This study states,
"Although out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is a major public health problem, individual paramedics are rarely exposed to these cases."
"Increased paramedic exposure [to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, thus more opportunities to provide CPR] was associated with reduced odds of attempted resuscitation"
"Paramedic years of experience were not associated with survival."
How can you expect a coach with only biannual CPR training to effectively manage an on-the-field emergency situation if even paramedics and other health professionals are under trained?
Does your school or league have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)?
Only 14 states meet the recommendation that every school or organization that sponsors athletics develop an EAP for managing serious and or potentially life-threatening injuries and only 6 states meet the recommendation that every school has a written EAP that is distributed to all staff members (Ref).