Editor’s Note: Dr. Geier is Director of MUSC Sports Medicine and
an orthopaedic surgeon. He writes a sports medicine column for The Post and
I received a lot of feedback about my last column describing the challenges with
guaranteeing EMS presence at high school football games. Surprisingly few people
were upset at the current arrangements.
Instead many readers wanted to know what first aid and emergency supplies teams
and sports facilities should have on site in case of emergency. I thought that
an appropriate follow up to that column then would be to create a list of these
necessities to help sports organizations prepare for serious injuries. I
discussed the idea with Dr. Keith Borg, MUSC adult and pediatric emergency
physician and event physician for Tour of California and USA Procycling
Automated external defibrillator (AED): “Any time you have a large number of
people, participants or spectators, AED’s should come to mind,” Borg states.
AED’s might not be necessary at every event, but if a facility will host games
and tournaments on a consistent basis, organizers should consider buying one.
If AED’s are cost prohibitive, teams or facilities should consider arranging for
an athletic trainer to bring one. Also, Borg points out that police cars often
have them. If police will be present on site, that might be an acceptable
Communication: A cell phone, or access to a nearby landline if no cell service
exists, is an absolute must. But just as important as the ability to make a call
is a plan. “A communication plan is Emergency 101 for organized events,” Borg
argues. Organizers should know where the closest hospital is, and they should
know the phone number of that hospital. “It can be very helpful for people to
call the emergency department and give us notice that someone seriously injured
is on the way, but they can also call us and ask questions.”
After those first two essential items, Dr. Borg looks at supplies used for
traumatic injuries versus those used for illness. For trauma, he offers a few
Cervical collar: Have cervical collars in several sizes in case of head and neck
injuries. Adjustable collars are acceptable but not as good in his opinion.
Bandage supplies: Stock gauze bandages, gauze rolls, and tape for rapid
application to wounds.
Extremity splints: Prepackaged, moldable splints can be applied to fractures
quickly and stabilize the extremity to more comfortably move and transfer the
As for acute illnesses during sporting events, Borg points out one situation
where the first few minutes are critical – anaphylactic shock. This is an event
where an athlete or spectator has an allergic reaction that is quickly life
threatening. “You never know when a kid will fall in a mound of fire ants or
have a severe bee sting.”
Injectable epinephrine: Parents and athletes should know about severe allergies
and have an EpiPen themselves. But facilities should consider keeping one. Often
a physician or nurse is needed to obtain them, and organizers should keep them
accessible but safe.
Dr. Borg and I think this list represents at least a good start for items
critical to prepare for sports emergencies. If paramedics and ambulances are
present, then some of these items might be unnecessary. But as I wrote recently,
EMS coverage is not always possible. These items might help to stabilize
athletes with critical sports injuries in the minutes before paramedics arrive.
For more information about sports injuries and other sports medicine topics,
please go to Dr. Geier’s blog at drdavidgeier.com.
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