*This story was updated to provide the correct spelling of the Chief of Cardiology‘s last name.
CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — During Monday night football the Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin suffered a medical emergency on the field, bringing attention to the conversation surrounding athlete safety.
Canyon Independent School District athletic personnel are required to complete CPR training once, as a new employee and then every two years to renew their certification. Canyon ISD officials complete the online portion and hands-on activities.
“We practice giving the compressions, doing the CPR given the mouth to mouth, air breathing, but then we also practice with the AED’s and we get those out and practice with each other but on the dummies as well, making sure we know exactly how to use those machines,” said Todd Winfrey, Canyon High School Head Football Coach.
CHS had AEDs placed throughout their campus in the main areas, as well as the field house and gymnasium. During practices and games athletic trainers or members of their coaching brings the AED on site.
Winfrey continued, “The AED is what saves lives, you know, the people can save lives as well. But that AED is built to save lives and buy time for an ambulance or medical personnel to get there. I feel like it’s really important that we have them at all our facilities.”
Todd Bowman is the athletic trainer for Canyon High and has been with them for 18 years. Bowman is responsible for all the medical needs at Canyon High which includes medical paperwork, rehab for injuries, nutrients and safety protocol.
Bowman is a CPR instructor and has a medical emergency plan in place.
“We have emergency action plans that are in place that we go over with the coaches, and it’s just to cover bases of in this situation,” said Bowman. “This is the protocol to follow.”
With Canyon having a variety of different athletic teams who practice and play at different times it’s important that coaches are just as prepared for an emergency situation as athletic trainers.
“There’s a lot of times coaches may practice 6:30 a.m. and I’m not with them, and so they if there were a cardiac event there, then they would have to handle that event,” stated Bowman. “That’s the purpose of the coaches being CPR certified.
Some signs of cardiac arrest include left shoulder pain, chest pain and shortness of breath.
Bowman said that when his dad experienced cardiac arrest, he compared it to an elephant standing on his chest.
For athletes, it is important to know of any underlying heart and health issues.
“If there is any history of fainting with exertion, it has to be checked out,” said Scott Shumur, Chief of Cardiology and Chair of Medicine at Texas Tech. “You have to have a young athlete exam, preferably examined by a specialist.”
EKGs, echocardiograms and MRIs are some of the most common ways to rule out heart disease.
In addition to knowing if athletes have underlying health conditions having a quick response time can be the difference between life and death.
“What’s important, though, at any playing field where there’s significant exertion or arena, or significant contact to have an AT on site and someone who is willing to use that early prompt,” stated Shumur. “The fibrillation is the most important thing in resuscitating cardiac arrest and young healthy individuals, if they are properly resisted, and almost always survive and have good outcomes if they receive very prompt attention.”
Winfrey adds that one thing they learn in CPR training is the warning signs and the importance of knowing your players.
“If you’re one of my players, do you look different,” said Winfrey. “Are you acting different is something different in the way you look or the way you’re moving or acting running and then you just kind of know when something’s not right.”
Winfred added that “obviously, you just want to have yourself in a situation in everything you do, whether it’s drills or, or even traveling from town to town in a bus, making sure you’re in a situation where you would know what to do.”
Bi-weekly Canyons coordinator meets and during their last meeting, they discussed knowing where all the AEDs are in Happy State Bank Stadium. Along with stressing the importance of being CPR certified.
“Everybody should be CPR trained, because it’s the cheapest way to save a life because you know, it’s a free service you can provide,” stated Winfrey.” “It’s just something we feel like we need to do we want to make our student athletes and any student that comes in feels safe.”
For parents with students at Canyon High School and throughout the district, Coach Winfrey has one message.
“Their kids are our kids, explained Winfrey. So, you know number one, if you if you’re in this business, you love kids, and so we want to protect them just like we want to protect our own.”
Winfrey continued, “when kids show up here, the number one thing they need to be safe than the number one, number two, they need to be loved. Number three, they need to get a great education. So, we’ve got folks that care about their kids are going to treat them like their own and they’re definitely safe when they come to campus.”