Youth Sports Coach’s Guide to First Aid:The National Federation of State High School Associations reports that during the 2014-2015 academic year, there was an estimated 7.8 million student athletes participating in sports in the United States. Of those, about 2.5 million participated in contact sports. Previous studies from 2013 found that there were an estimated 1.3 million emergency room visits for injuries related to 14 different sports commonly played by children ages 6-19. Youth sport injuries often consist of, but are not limited to:
Cervical spine/neck injury
Heat illness (heat stroke)
Misuse of opioids/amphetamines
Misuse of performance-enhancing drugs/supplements
Sudden cardiac arrest
Traumatic brain injuries and concussions
It is important for schools to verify that their sports staff (coaches, athletic trainers, and nurses) are adequately trained and educated on injury prevention and treatment. Even those who aren’t hands-on in the coaching or athletic training process may find it useful to be up-to-date on their injury prevention and treatment methods to accurately report and analyze the games’ events.
The American College of Sports Medicine also reports that 96% of Americans believe it is important for a student-athlete to be evaluated by a qualified medical professional prior to playing sports to make sure they are healthy enough to play. This can help to ensure the athlete isn’t already injured, as well as prevent future injuries from happening.
Professional and even college sports have major economic and social importance, but injuries can impede performance, disrupt teams, and even end athletic careers. Students of sport business management as well as coaches, parents, and athletic leadership all have a role in ensuring adequate safety and preventive strategies are employed to keep athletes of all ages safe and in the game.
Basic First Aid Guidelines
Basic first aid guidelines are always changing. Below are the current tips for intervening during an injury.
CPR, AED, and First Aid Certifications
Typically, it is required that coaches and any other first aid staff on hand at sporting events be up to date on their automated external defibrillator (AED) knowledge, basic first aid certification, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.
Automated External Defibrillator (AED): An AED is a medical device that is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It analyzes the heart’s rhythm, and when necessary, delivers an electrical shock (defibrillation) to help the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm. These devices can be found in various locations throughout a facility. It’s important for medical and sporting personnel to know where these devices are located at all times, especially during a sporting event.
Due to the fact that the average response time for first responders is 8-12 minutes, having access to an AED and knowing how to use one is critical. For every minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival decreases by about 10%.
Basic First Aid Certification: When people are certified in basic first aid, they have the basic information and skills necessary to help children and adults in the case of a medical emergency. Having these skills is especially important for youth sports coaches because it allows someone to begin administering treatment while waiting for the athlete’s parents and/or first responders to get to the scene. Certifying in first aid means they are certified in, but are not limited to aiding in:
Neck, head, and spinal injuries
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification: Being certified in CPR means you are able to accurately perform an emergency procedure that consists of methodically timed chest compressions, and in the past, mouth-to-mouth breathing. It is important for sports coaches to know how to perform CPR because, like many other life-threatening injuries, performing CPR on an athlete could be a matter of life or death. CPR helps keep the blood flow active and can extend the opportunity for a successful resuscitation in those who have experienced sudden cardiac arrest.
When getting CPR certified, people will undergo classes that inform them of the different CPR methods (AED, hands only), the difference between performing CPR on different genders, why CPR is needed, and when.
Have a First Aid Kit on Hand
Having a first aid kit available at a youth sporting event is vital because it can aid the sports management personnel or coach in quickly tending to an injury. All first aid kits should contain, but shouldn’t be limited to:
Ace bandage wrap (typically for wrists, ankles, knees, and elbows)
Aluminum finger splints
Disposable/instant ice bags
First aid manual
Sterile cotton balls and cotton tip applicators
Sterile gauze pads
Syringe, medicine cup, medicine spoon for medications
The first aid kit should be stored in a location that is easy and quick to access.