In Good Hands

Athletic trainers, EMS personnel conduct exercises w/Video

Training session held at Northeastern

071918 Trainers in Training
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Pasquotank certified athletic trainer April Johnson (left) and Camden athletic trainer Bernie Stasko (right) work on the leg of student Quang Bui.

071918 Trainers in Training
071918 Trainers in Training
071918 Trainers in Training

By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Local emergency medical services personnel and certified athletic trainers from Pasquotank, Camden, Perquimans and Gates county high schools took part in athletic-related medical simulations at Northeastern High School on Wednesday morning.

The exercises were held in conjunction with Virginia-based Sentara Healthcare, Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Gates County Rescue and EMS and Perquimans County EMS.

During the simulations, athletic trainers and EMS personnel went through eight situations that might occur during a game or a team practice.

Athletes from Pasquotank County High School served as patients during the exercises.

Some of those situations included treating an athlete that showed signs of heat stroke, going through the proper protocol to treat an athlete that sustained a serious spinal cord injury to interacting with a student-athlete that is acutely suicidal.

The athletic trainers that took part in the exercises are affiliated with Sentara Healthcare.

Dr. Jared Miller, Sentara’s director of sports medicine in northeast North Carolina, noted that the exercises were fantastic.

“The whole goal from this is to A. increase awareness [and] B. practice,” Miller said. “It’s an inter-county event. We get everybody together in one scenario because we are the team that’s going to take care of these individuals when they are injured.”

This is the second year that Sentara and area EMS personnel have practiced emergency situations.

After the second installment of the exercises, all sides acknowledged the benefits of conducting the simulations.

Jerry Newell, the director of Pasquotank-Camden EMS, noted one of the important factors of the exercises from the EMS perspective is the ability to build relationships with the school’s athletic trainers.

“Up until last year, there was a disconnect between the two organizations,” Newell said. “Not a bad disconnect, but we never put a face with a name... Now we get to integrate with each other and know what either side can do or can’t do.”

Newell added that when a serious medical situation occurs, the exercises have made the ability to transfer an injured athlete from athletic trainer to EMS smoother.

April Johnson is the athletic trainer at Pasquotank County High School and is the lead athletic trainer for Sentara in the region.

Johnson noted that she dealt with a situation after last year’s first set of exercises.

She noted that EMS arrived to the scene, was able to take the vitals that she had on the athlete and transported the patient.

“It was a smooth transition,” Johnson said.

Bernie Stasko has served as the athletic trainer at Camden County High School for four years.

“It allows us to communicate better as a group and go over certain scenarios so each individual knows their role,” he said. “It’s enhancing the quality of care so there is not a step missed. That is the importance of doing these safety protocols.”

Along with the five Sentara affiliated athletic trainers in the region, Johnson noted that the comradely with athletic trainers in the region is also good.

That includes schools in Chowan and Currituck counties.

Although athletic trainers at John A. Holmes and Currituck County high schools are not affiliated with Sentara, Johnson noted that the athletic trainers in northeast North Carolina have formed a bond to help each other out and provide care for the kids.

During Friday night football, most home games are either staffed with an athletic trainer a doctor or both.

Miller noted the he along with Dr. Dan Elliott are present at area home football games during the season.

Sentara, which is based in Norfolk, Virginia, also provided a simulation with its helicopter Nightingale.

According to Sentara, Nightingale is used for handling trauma, cardiac, neurological, medical, pediatric and obstetric patients.

The healthcare company added that Miller along with Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance team coordinator Scott McClain collaborated to expand the scope of the emergency training to include Nightingale during this year’s training session.

According to Miller, area schools have a designated landing zone near the school for Nightingale.

The field between the tennis courts and the football stadium at NHS was used as the landing zone during the exercise.

Johnson, who has served as an athletic trainer at Pasquotank for four years and has a total of 12 years of experience as a certified athletic trainer, was the lead trainer during the exercise involving the athlete that sustained a spinal injury.

Johnson’s patient was taken from Northeastern’s track, loaded into the ambulance then taken on a stretcher and placed into the back of the helicopter.

Nightingale took off from the field and returned minutes later to complete the exercise.

An average trip for Nightingale from Elizabeth City to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is around 20 minutes.

Along with adding Nightingale to the round of exercises, a session on how to handle an individual that is suicidal was added.

Within the last year, there was a situation involving a student-athlete that expressed suicidal tendencies.

Area schools now have a protocol to handle the situation.

“It’s always a good run-through to go through the steps of what you would have to do in a real-life event,” Miller said. “We introduced some new things, we practiced the old concepts. Hopefully we will be prepared and ready to go if this ever happens.”