Mar 15, 2018
It Takes Two
Aimee Brunelle

In order to work together effectively, both emergency medical services (EMS)/emergency medical technicians (EMT) and athletic trainers have to modify their behaviors. As both an athletic trainer and EMT myself, here are some tips I have for how each group can adjust:

EMS/EMTs: Trust the experience and insight of the athletic trainer. They work day in and day out with athletes, and they likely know the athletes and their normal behaviors, pain tolerances, etc.

Also, believe what the athletic trainers witness. For example, I once worked a women’s football game where a player was tackled out of bounds — causing a brief hypoxic seizure due to an abdominal blow. Because the EMTs did not witness it, they did not believe that it occurred (even though I reported it). Because of that and other signs and symptoms the athlete was exhibiting, I insisted on a transport to the emergency department, where a small spleen laceration was found.

Athletic trainers: If EMTs seem to be going too slow or asking you unusual questions, this is generally due to local or state protocols. EMS must document specific items, and, in some states, their patient care report is reviewed for completion and correctness by local and state authorities. And don’t underestimate their experience with trauma and emergency cardiac care — their knowledge will only benefit your athletes.

Both: Get rid of your egos! EMS and athletic trainers each want what is best for their patient. In times of emergency, good medical care requires sound clinical judgment and teamwork. Your protocols may not always perfectly align, but this is not the time to argue. It is a time to compromise for the good of the athlete.

Aimee Brunelle, MS, ATC, EMT, is the Athletic Trainer and District Wellness Coordinator at Colonie High School in Albany, N.Y. She is a Past President of the New York State Athletic Trainers' Association (NYSATA) and the current Newsletter Editor for NATA District 2. In June, she received the NYSATA's 2017 Kent Scriber Recognition Award.

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