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Certified Athletic Trainers Helping Save Lives on the Field


Certified Athletic Trainers Better Equipped in Medical Emergency

It is an Athletic Trainer’s greatest fear and every parent’s worst nightmare – a cardiac event on the playing field. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an abrupt loss of heart function that if not treated within minutes, can be deadly. When this tragic event happens to student athletes, it can have a devastating impact on the family, school and community.

It is impossible to know when SCA will occur, but it can be triggered by overexertion in those with an underlying cardiac condition. Having access to one device, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), can make all the difference.

This lightweight, portable device delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart and requires little to no training to use. The shock can stop an irregular rhythm, and allow a normal heart rhythm to resume. Administering CPR in conjunction with an AED can greatly increase the chance of recovery.

Thanks to a partnership with Gaston County Medical Society Alliance and St. Jude Medical, CaroMont Heart is able to provide AEDs outside of the hospital setting for public use, like sporting events and school-related functions, where the chance for SCA is greatest. Mark Heckel, MD, Cardiologist with CaroMont Heart, presented six devices to CaroMont Athletic Trainers during their October meeting at CaroMont Regional Medical Center.

“During cardiac arrest, every minute counts,” said Dr. Heckel. "If you consider the time it takes for a medical responder to arrive versus an athletic trainer or bystander, it can mean the difference between life and death."

Trent Hayes, Sports Medicine Coordinator and lead Athletic Trainer at CaroMont Health, works closely with student athletes at Gaston Christian School in Gastonia. He serves on the front line to continuously assess the health of the student athletes, prevent injuries and administer medical care when needed.

“As an Athletic Trainer, it is my job to make sure that any health issues our student athletes experience on the field is addressed quickly and appropriately,” said Hayes. “It’s a responsibility that my team and I take seriously. Having an AED accessible at practices and games is critical for the safety of these students.”

Through an agreement between Gaston County Schools and the CaroMont Health Athletic Training Services Program, Hayes and his colleagues are stationed at all high schools in Gaston County. They spent this summer preparing to ensure the safety of student athletes returning to the field this school year. This included inspecting existing AEDs, and brushing up on the signs of SCA and the proper use of the device.

“Having an emergency plan in place that includes an AED is vital in protecting our student athletes,” Hayes said. “While we hope we never have to use them, with football season and other fall sports in full swing, having these devices could potentially save someone’s life.”

CaroMont Heart and the Alliance were recognized in 2013 by the Gaston County School Board during their Good News report for their donation of 12 AEDs to the middle schools in the County and Warlick School, an initiative to enhance the safety and health of Gaston County students.

Categories: Health