Jan 29, 2015
Prepared for Anything

Very few in sports are strangers to the sight–an athlete goes down, the athletic trainers rush to their aid, a spine board or stretcher is called, and the athlete is whisked away to a waiting ambulance. Often, the sequence occurs like clockwork. But in reality, a lack of proper planning and preparation for these incidents can make the difference between life and death.

This was the message of Ron Courson’s seminar, “Bridging the Gap Between Emergency Medicine and Athletic Training: Planning for Emergencies and Catastrophic Events,” on Thursday morning. Courson, ATC, PT, NREMT-1, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine at the University of Georgia, pointed out that the infrequency of catastrophic sports injuries can create a false sense of security for athletic trainers. Through his presentation, he provided guidelines for the development of emergency action plans (EAPs) and described how to hold scenario-based emergency training.

Courson was adamant about the need for athletic trainers to practice their EAPs on a regular basis and involve a wide range of participants, including coaches, administrators, team physicians, local EMS, and campus and local police. To reinforce his point, Courson compared EAP practice to an onside kick in football. If a team only practices the kick once a year, it’s unlikely to be successful during a game. Likewise, if athletic trainers only practice their EAP annually, chances are, it will be less effective during an emergency than one practiced on a monthly basis.

At Georgia, Courson takes this approach to heart by hosting a regular “EAP Day” at the Athens campus. With a guest list that ranges from Georgia staff athletic trainers to local firefighters, each 90-minute session serves as a practice of the school’s EAP and gives Courson a chance to update the medical personnel on any EAP changes. For instance, there is currently a great deal of construction on Georgia’s campus. To avoid any confusion during an emergency, Courson walks the group of medical professionals through any new facilities and informs them of any road closures that would interfere with an ambulance’s route to the hospital. Through sessions like EAP Day, Courson ensures there is no gap between EMS and athletic trainers when a Bulldog athlete goes down.

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