(MINOT, ND) – Guidelines for providing pre-hospital care to injured athletes have evolved in recent years, and Trinity Sports Medicine is taking steps to make sure the new standards are implemented region wide.
Sports Medicine Manager Robyn Gust, MS/ATC, says members of her team have been meeting with area first responders in recent months to bring them up to date with the protocols. ‘We’ve already conducted training with Minot Fire Department, Berthold Ambulance, and Burlington Fire Dept. We’ll be meeting with others in the future,’ Gust said.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association released the new guidelines specifically for treating athletes with potential spinal injuries on the field. They include changes that relate to techniques for spine boarding an athlete and to the timing of removing an athlete’s protective equipment used in collision sports such as football and hockey.
According to Gust, the new recommendations are causing a stir nationally. ‘People aren’t used to witnessing the new procedures. They’re not sure the first responders are doing it right because it’s not what has been done in the past in regards to pad/helmet removal.’
In the past, it was generally accepted that an athlete’s protective gear should remain in place so that medical staff with a higher degree of medical training could oversee the removal in the emergency department. But experience and research led Sports Medicine professionals to question that concept. The approach now is that in most cases it’s better to have the equipment removed by Sports Medicine staff, who are familiar with the apparatus.
‘As certified athletic trainers and Sports Medicine professionals, we know how the equipment is put on and how it should be taken off,’ Gust explained. ‘We’re familiar with the role that the equipment plays in supporting the anatomy and whether removal is appropriate given the nature of the injury and the assessments we do on the field.’
The guidelines are exactly that ñ guidelines. Family Practice/Sports Medicine Specialist Dawn Mattern, MD, says part of Trinity’s first responder initiative involves communicating a certain amount of nuance that comes into play in deciding when it is appropriate or not appropriate to remove pads and helmets.
‘Every situation is different ñ the injury, the athlete, the weather, the location, and the amount of trained personnel available to help,’ Dr. Mattern said. ‘By enlisting the help of other first responders, we are able to ensure quality care starts from the moment we reach the athlete.’