Disaster is always one play away in football. We aren’t talking about personal fouls or turnovers in this context either.
It’s said all the time that football is a collision sport. Collisions make injury inevitable, and when it does happen, the people in charge of various diagnoses and treatment have to be prepared.
It was with that in mind that ULM head athletic trainer Jason “J.D.” Dunavant organized an in-service for his staff and certified athletic trainers on the high-school level from across northeastern Louisiana last Friday.
The topics covered during the session included cervical spine injuries, transportation of injured players via spine board, and safely removing football equipment for medical transport.
“We do this yearly and our staff will practice throughout the year to make sure we’re on the same page,” Dunavant said. “Everything we do goes back to the best practices in our field to make sure we follow things that are evidence based, fundamentally sound and up to speed with current trends as far as the medical community is concerned.
“We have a best practices document that we review with our old staff and new staff just to make sure everybody’s on the same page because the last thing we want is to have brand new people scattered all over the place when we need to figure something out right now.”
The main focus of the in service was spinal injuries, a topic that hit home with Dunavant during the 2015 college football season when Southern University wide receiver Devon Gales was paralyzed following an on-field collision in a game at the University of Georgia.
ULM had played Georgia the week prior and the Warhawks are set to host Southern in the 2016 season opener.
“That’s something we saw and that was prevalent to us so it was fresh in our minds,” Dunavant said. “Also we’ve had situations up here on the high-school level at Franklin Parish and Union Parish, so that’s why we invited the high schools here to go over what we consider best practices and exchange ideas and thoughts.”
Opening night of the 2015 high school football season was marred by the tragic death of Franklin Parish High football player Tyrell Cameron following a collision during a punt return.
Cameron’s death came two years after Union Parish’s Jaleel Gipson injured his spinal cord in a routine tackling drill. Gipson was taken to the LSU Health Sciences Center in Sheveport, where he died after being taken off life support.
I think it’s paramount that the people who are taking care of these kids understand exactly what goes into it,” said Phil Shaw, the head athletic trainer at Ouachita Parish High School and former head trainer at ULM.
“The parents need to know these guys are trained in that and J.D. putting together an in service like this is great because you’ve got to have a group effort between the training staff, school staff, fire department and EMS when unfortunate things like this happen.”
The Ouachita Parish School System offers an athletic-training curriculum to students that includes an extracurricular activity component. Both Ouachita Parish and the Monroe City School District have on-site athletic trainers.
“In the secondary school setting you don’t have full-time staffers and GA’s so you’re relying on student trainers and coaches. We’re fortunate at Ouachita that all our coaches are first aid and CPR certified so if something were to happen, it won’t be the first time they’ve seen it,” Shaw said.
“Football season is here so what we’ll do is take this training back to school and in-service next week after practice.”
Follow Adam on Twitter @adam_hunsucker