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Football is a contact sport that is very popular in our colleges. Football players are involved in a lot of aggressive physical contact during the matches. This therefore puts them at a high risk of getting a serious physical injury. Getting a catastrophic head injury during a football match is one of the dangers that face football players. Such injuries are an inherent risk in contact sports and therefore, it is of paramount importance that medical emergency plans are put in place to ensure that such situations are dealt with appropriately. To effectively respond to such life threatening medical emergencies one must have an effective medical emergency plan at hand.
Elements of a medical emergency plan
One of the key elements of a medical emergency plan is the creation of a medical emergency team. The medical emergency team is the foundation of the medical emergency plan. The medical emergency team will include coaches, physicians, athletic directors (certified), the emergency response staff and the emergency medical technicians. These medical emergency team members will be tasked with giving immediate care to any injured football player including those with catastrophic head injuries. It is good practice that medical care of the injured player to be provided for by the medical emergency team member who has got the most expertise (Veenema, 2013).
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A second key element of a medical emergency plan is the availability of medical emergency equipment. The medical emergency equipment availed to the medical emergency team should be appropriate and should match the level of training of each of the medical emergency team members. The minimum equipment that must be available includes a splinter kit, a first aid kit and an automated external defibrillator or AED. Furthermore, all the medical emergency team members should be familiar with the equipment and should have adequate training on how to us it. The medical emergency equipment should always be in good working condition as well as be well maintained and stored properly. Whenever possible, always use the medical emergency equipment during medical emergency plan rehearsals (Graham et al, 2014).
A third key element of a medical emergency plan is the availability of Emergency Medical Services also known as the paramedic services. These medical services will enable the transportation of the critically injured players to hospital at minimum risk since the emergency medical staff will provide appropriate care while on transit. An onsite EMS is a requirement during high risk games such as football. Moreover, any venues with an EMS response time of more than five minutes also require an onsite EMS (Graham et al, 2014).
Lastly, effective communication is another key element of a medical emergency plan. An effective communication system is vital if the emergency medical team is to deliver adequate medical emergency care. Constant communication between the medical emergency team members is crucial throughout a medical emergency. Furthermore, it is a must that each medical emergency team member knows their specific roles during a medical emergency to reduce miscommunication. Backup communication systems should be established for critical medical duties. Primary and secondary communication systems should also be setup. These could include walkie talkies and cell phones. However note that when using cell phones to contact the EMS, it is important that you call the direct local EMS number to ensure that there is no delay in the medical emergency response (Veenema, 2013).
A medical emergency plan that has these four key elements in its structure will without doubt ensure that football players with catastrophic head injuries receive quick and adequate medical services that could be life saving.
- Graham, R., Rivara, F., Ford, M. & Spicer, M.C. (2014). Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture. New York, NY: National Academies Press.
- Veenema, T. G. (2013). Disaster Nursing and Emergency Preparedness. New York, NY: Springer.