As a 12-year-old lacrosse player with a suspected cervical spine injury was being loaded into the ambulance, the next call came over the walkie, “Robin, we just had a car accident in the parking lot…”
Sports — where the unexpected is to be expected, both on and off the field. Having athletic trainers as part of your team can help you plan for, manage and mitigate the unexpected.Safety at sporting events and venues is something that takes an extraordinary amount of planning and practice. Your attendees are expecting that you have a solid plan in place because they are putting their trust in you as the organizer. Having an athletic trainer on site is a critical piece to this complicated puzzle that is safety and risk management in sports. The following are five reasons why you should consider having an athletic trainer at your events.
Transfer Risk and Liability
Athletic trainers (ATs) are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who render service or treatments under the direction of/in collaboration with a physician. Athletic training services include primary care, injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. ATs are specialists when it comes to emergency planning in athletics. By having an AT, you are allowing a trained medical professional to make key decisions such as evaluations, treatment and return to play — decisions that your staff, coaches, and parents should not be making unless they are properly certified. Hiring an AT not only transfers that risk from yourself and your organization, but you are also setting participants up for receiving the best care for the variety of medical situations they may find themselves in.
A Healthcare Professional With Life Saving Skills
The top four causes of sudden death in sport are concussion, exertional heat stroke, exertional sickling and sudden cardiac death. Do you know what to do if a player or spectator suddenly goes unconscious? Athletic trainers are trained to know what to do from lacerations, fractures, cardiac emergencies, strokes and everything in between. In addition to having the proper ratio of ATs on site at your event, it is important to make sure your venue is properly equipped with the right tools including accessible AED(s), cooling station(s), clear ambulance access points and more. Having an AT with the proper equipment at their disposal could mean the difference between life and death.
Built-In Safety Consultant
Having and rehearsing your emergency action plan (EAP) is an integral part of creating and maintaining safe environments at events. Athletic trainers are experts in emergency planning. Unsure how to prevent exertional heat stroke? Ask your athletic trainer to help you develop a policy to make sure it’s safe to play in the heat. Need help designing a lightning plan? Athletic trainers can help identify the closest lightning safe shelter to ensure everyone is protected. Don’t know what to say when a parent asks “Can my kid go back into the game in 5 minutes” after they’ve sustained a concussion? Athletic trainers can help you develop and enforce a concussion policy to keep you and your organization safe. Having a go-to professional to help you handle the “what-if’s” will help you gain confidence and execute a safe event.
Clear Communication with Parents, Patients & Coaches About Injuries
Sometimes hard conversations need to be had with parents, patients and coaches. They may have traveled all the way across the country to be in your college showcase, spending a lot of time and money, but they sustained a serious injury in the first game. Emotions are running high, and ATs are equipped to evaluate them, make these tough return to play decisions and communicate clearly to the parent or patient. As an impartial medical professional, you can rest assured the athlete’s safety and well-being are front of mind when making these decisions.
Having ATs on site at your events can be a key to highlight your focus on safety as an event operator or facility. In a market that can be quite saturated with competition, setting yourself apart by running safe events can help you stand out from the crowd (although all events should have proper medical staffing). By setting that bar, you can be a part of the growing trend and help set the industry standard for having ATs at events. This should be the norm, not the exception! Coaches, club directors, parents and participants are savvy and will be paying attention to the safety of events that they are attending. Give them peace of mind that your events have safety standards and best practices in place.
Now that you have a better understanding about the value that having an athletic trainer on site at your event can bring, it’s time to start planning. Be sure to factor in costs for ATs while you are going through your budgeting process and be sure to add finding your AT staff to your operations checklist. If you are interested in learning more about how to find and hire athletic trainers for your facilities/events nationwide, visit our website at www.go4.io
Robin Baxter, far left, has been working in the sport industry since 2002. She currently she is the Director of National Accounts at Go4 and an adjunct professor in the Sport Business graduate program at Neumann University. Ellis Mair, EdM, ATC is a licensed athletic trainer, and one of the founders of Go4. Formerly the Director of Participant Health and Safety at NXT Sports, her current role is the VP of Medicine/Community at Go4. Ellis frequently lectures on a variety of related topics at colleges and universities around the country.