JULIA NIX '24
SUA and Sports Safety
The nation's eyes were on the city of Cincinnati when the frightening Damar Hamlin medical emergency occurred during an NFL Monday night football game at Paycor Stadium on January 2, 2023. Trained medical and sports professionals mobilized quickly to aid Hamlin in his time of need during his sudden cardiac arrest. Their swift and decisive actions saved his life.
This incident has heightened everyone’s awareness of the need for proper medical training, tools, and protocols to be in place in order to care for someone suffering from a medical emergency. SUA’s own Anna Callihan explains our readiness for emergencies.
Ms. Callihan: My name is Anna Callihan. I am the athletic trainer at SUA, and I work for Mercy Health. I graduated from Cedarville University in May 2022 with a Bachelor’s in athletic training. I am BOC Certified and have my license to practice in Ohio as well. I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, with a concentration in Sports Psychology. As a certified athletic trainer, I am CPR and AED certified. I am responsible for the prevention of injuries when possible, recognition of injuries, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries, as well as medical emergency that take place such as sudden cardiac arrest, dislocations, or diabetic emergencies.
What procedures does SUA have in place for athlete emergencies?
Ms. Callihan: SUA has an Emergency Action Plan, or EAP, in place for all athletic events. This EAP outlines everything that needs to take place if an emergency happens. It outlines the medical condition, who to call, the address for the location, and the proper chain of command. The EAP is reviewed at the beginning of each season by the athletic trainer and reviewed with the coaches as well.
What type of training does the SUA staff have? How often do they do the training?
Ms. Callihan: The coaching staff are all CPR and AED certified. They renew this certification online each year.
Is an AED (automated external defibrillator) present at all sporting events? Is there someone present who knows how to use it at all sporting events?
Ms. Callihan: An AED is present at every single sporting event. It is used to aid a person undergoing sudden cardiac arrest, monitor their heart rhythm, and - if necessary - deliver an electrical shock to help the heart regain a normal rhythm. During games, I bring a portable AED with me to the sidelines so that it is easily and quickly accessible. During practices, multiple AEDs are available. There is a portable AED that I can bring to practices with me, as well as one outside the athletic training facility on the wall. This AED is always available to the public should anyone need to use it. Not only is an athletic trainer present at every home event in case of an emergency, the coaching staff is also CPR and AED certified so they would be trained to give the necessary medical attention before emergency services arrive.
How do you educate the students about athletic safety?
Ms. Callihan: I have conversations with the athletes in the training room about safety on and off the court. As a high school athletic trainer, I think one of the most important things I can do is explain what is going on when an athlete is injured and what the recovery process looks like for that injury. For example, during rehabilitation, I explain to the athlete why they are doing that exercise and how that will help them improve.
What resources are available in the training room for student athletes?
Ms. Callihan: In the athletic training room, there are many resources for student athletes. First, a thorough evaluation of their injury is done so that the athletic trainer can properly determine what is going on and the best way to help the athlete. Often times this includes taping, rehabilitation exercises, hot packs, and stretching. All of these are used together in order to provide the athlete the greatest opportunity to play when it is safe and healthy for them to do so. I also am able to help athletes schedule appointments to see Mercy Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine doctors quickly. Due to the close-knit relationship that SUA has with Mercy Health, SUA athletes are able to be seen quickly and their treatment is streamlined.
What do you recommend that students do to prevent injuries?
Ms. Callihan: There are a few things I would recommend to student athletes to prevent injuries. First, make sure you ease yourself back into your sport and prepare well for your season. If you play a fall sport, start getting in shape during the spring instead of trying to get into shape one week before your season begins. This helps to reduce the stress on your body and can help reduce stress injuries.
Second, make sure you have effective equipment. It is important to make sure that your shoes, and insoles if needed, are in proper shape and are not worn out. Third, give your body time to rest. It is important to work hard at your sport and to push yourself to become a better athlete, but your body has to rest. This means that you can have an active recovery and take a day off to allow your body to heal!
Finally, please come and see me when you first start hurting and developing an injury. Often times, I can help you with an injury if you come to me early on and we can keep you playing your sport. My goal is to keep you playing your sport and give you the support you need, not to hold you out, as long as it is
healthy for you to continue.
I want to thank Anna for answering these important questions about safety. While we hope that SUA never has to deal with any sort of medical emergency, it is clear that the proper measures have been put in place to obviate possible catastrophes in the handling of potentially dangerous or life-threatening situations that may arise during a sporting event.