A Friday afternoon that saw temperatures reach the high 80s, and a heat index that had it feeling even hotter at R.A. Barr Stadium, the setting seemed right for an emergency training session for Blue Jays personnel.
Marshfield coaches, school resource officers and Blue Jays athletic trainer Megan Kennedy teamed up with local EMS and fire for hands-on situations that proactively prepare everyone involved for unexpected emergencies at events.
“This is the first time we’ve done this with our local EMS and fire, so we’re excited to get everyone together because on a Friday night we collaborate with these people,” Marshfield Athletic Director Ronda Hubbard said. “Whether it’s in a gym or on the softball field, we’re calling 911 and someone is coming, so we’re preparing for what that looks like and what everyone can expect. What can coaches do, what happens if they’re delayed in getting there? We’re preparing for all of those things.”
Coaches were divided up and spent time at three stations: heat stroke, cardiac arrest and C-spine. After some instructions at each, various scenarios were presented to coaches that required as many as eight participants to take action at once and assist each individual.
Several who stepped in and played the part of an athlete received a cool-off. One of them was John Everett, one of three Marshfield SROs who work all varsity football games. Blue Jays sophomore Owen Curley, a basketball and baseball player, also was treated to an ice bath that lasted several minutes.
“It was about 30 seconds [before it got too cold],” Curley said.
Kennedy says the training is something she had done individually with coaches in the past, but said she’s wanted to do a unified training session like Friday for a while. A prompt by CoxHealth and Hubbard’s ability to coordinate coaches to get together helped make it a reality.
“You’re always reading things in the newspaper about kids who have died from heat illness or from cardiac arrest, and the ones who have survived are the ones whose coaches know what they’re doing,” Kennedy said. “That’s where we get the best outcome, and we want that for our Marshfield athletes. “
“It’s just a good idea to go through this, even annually. Practice makes perfect, and just like with any sport, you practice something, and the more you practice, the better you get at it. If you’re in the moment and it’s the first time you’ve ever done it, you get scared, anything can happen. If you practice it, you can expect what to do.”
With multiple athletic practices and games going on at almost all times throughout the year, Kennedy is without the divine power of being everywhere at once. She said there’s a peace of mind knowing that if she isn’t present when an emergency arises, coaches have the proper training to handle a situation until she or EMS does.
“I try to be everywhere at once, but when our athletes are hurt … I know my coaches are the best at coaching them, and I want them to be able to give them quality care all-around, too,” Kennedy said. “They know I’m always a call away, but I may not be right there, so it helps me to know coaches can take care of the situation and do everything that needs to get done.”
Blue Jays cheerleading coach Stephanie Bateman called it fun and “much more hands on than it usually is,” adding that it answered simple questions like whether to place the AED (automated external defibrillator) on top of clothing or how to best keep privacy for an athlete in distress.
The instruction provided to coaches Friday and beforehand can benefit more than just athletes. Bateman said that two weeks ago she was at a restaurant when a server asked patrons if anyone could administer the Heimlich maneuver to a man.
“I’m considered a first responder, so I stood up, pushed in my chair and went over to help,” Bateman said. “I said, ‘You call 911,’ you know, and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. We ended up getting [what it was] to come out of the guy, but it was so incredibly scary.”
Bryan can be followed on Twitter @BryanEversonMF.