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Athletic Training Staff Meets with EMS and Physicians to Practice Emergency Spine Management

Athletic Training Staff Meets with EMS and Physicians to Practice Emergency Spine Management Monmouth University's Head Football Athletic Trainer Nate Miker knows the importance of well-executed spine boarding during football games in saving lives and reducing complications, so he took the time to organize and direct a spine board drill with the MU Team Sports Medicine Staff, Team Physicians and local emergency medical services personnel so that all involved are on the same page.

PR Newswire

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J., Aug. 28, 2018

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J., Aug. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Head football Athletic Trainer Nathan Miker, MS, LAT, ATC has been involved with spine board drills in the past in conjunction with local EMS during his tenure at Monmouth University and previously at Old Dominion and Virginia Tech. Last season, a case of transient quadriplegia in a football player at an away game reinforced the importance of this practice, so he was sure to repeat the meeting again this year before the University opened pre-season camp on August 1st. Mr. Miker contacted members of the local West Long Branch EMS squad, team physicians, professors in the proposed Graduate Athletic Training Program, the equipment manager and the university's sports medicine Athletic Training staff and coordinated a joint meeting and drill to communicate policy and practice spine boarding and football equipment removal this past week.

Miker noted, "I am a huge advocate regarding communication, and tonight I wanted to establish an in person relationship between our working medical team to promote dialogue on the topic of spine boarding. Each of our professions have formulated precise thoughts and techniques on the proper management of spine boarding. Although none of them are wrong, we must iron out and establish a firm plan and EAP to allow a fluid and flawless execution while on the field in a stressful environment."

Ten members of the WLB EMS squad met with members of the sports medicine staff and discussed history and philosophy of emergency management of the spine-injured athlete before practicing the process with a simulation dummy provided by the Graduate Athletic Training Program. This is a scenario that is drilled by Licensed Athletic Trainers across the country in preparation for the upcoming football season so changes in emergency procedures are reviewed and practiced for smooth execution. According to Christina Emrich, MS, LAT, ATC, President of the Athletic Trainers' Society of NJ, Inc., "In an emergency, it is critical that all of those involved in the emergency action plan work together, specifically in the management of the c-spine injured athlete. Planning and preparation is the key and this should include training with other healthcare providers. Hands-on learning experiences provide an opportunity to practice skills and provide additional education for Athletic Trainers, EMS, and Team Physicians together and this drill did just that. Everyone should do this to ensure that a coordinated emergency plan is in place and is performed smoothly to avoid any conflicts when the situation arises." Many will.

The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) contributes to the Spine Injury in Sport Group (SISG) which was developed out of the prior Inter-Association Task Force on Pre-Hospital Care of the Spine Injured Athlete. They have worked on and revised recommendations since 1998 to reflect current practices in on-field emergency care of suspected spine injuries, and there has been some differences of opinion as to whether equipment should be removed prior to or after transport of the patient to the hospital. Initial recommendations were to leave all equipment on, but later changed to removal on the field since Athletic Trainers are trained in doing so and regularly practice such, but this is an ongoing discussion. The NATA has allocated funding for research and the SISG plans results of this project to be published in the October 2019 issue of NATA News.

The team at Monmouth was able to come to a management consensus and practice spine boarding and equipment removal with each other during the course of the evening. Michael Iulliucci, MU Equipment Manager, explained and demonstrated differences between various helmets and shoulder pads and demonstrated facemask removal and specific characteristics of shoulder pads. Attendees expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting.

"The actions taken in the first few minutes of emergency care on the field are critical. It is imperative that all the team members involved in the athletes' care are on the same page," said Dhimant Balar,DO, Team Physician, Monmouth University Sports Medicine and Medical Director of MU's Athletic Training Program.

"This session was important for the educational growth of athletic training students and program directors alike. We can teach what types of communications should occur when developing EAP's, but to witness interactions of team physicians, AT's and EMT's will have an immeasurable impact on students and their future patients," said Athletic Training Program Director Christina Merckx, PhD, ATC.

"On field care of injured athletes takes a team approach particularly in the case of potential spinal cord injuries. This opportunity to practice as a team was essential to providing the best and safest response in the case of an emergency. Extremely valuable for all the medical team members," said Gregg Foos, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Monmouth University.

As football season looms ominously in the coming weeks, this collaborative drill has, and will continue to be orchestrated by Licensed Athletic Trainers across the State of New Jersey and the United States as just one exercise that will prepared health care providers to be on the same page in the unfortunate event of the medical need to provide emergency management of the suspected cervical spine injured athlete. Hopefully this need is minimal, but it is gratifying that folks are taking steps to assure the best possible outcome!


SOURCE Athletic Trainer's Society Of New Jersey

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Last Updated: 28-Aug-2018