Central Texas school prepared for emergencies like Hamlin’s injury; shares ways to ease concerns for players’ safety

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 10:15 AM CST
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WEST, Texas (KWTX) - Damar Hamlin’s tragic injury has many people shaken up about their children’s health and safety during contact sports, and West ISD athletic trainer says, while injuries like his are rare, they are prepared for a wide variety of injuries and health concerns.

“I kind of have to be prepared every day for anything in between a paper cut and somebody’s heart to not be beating,” Chase Remini, West ISD’s athletic trainer, said.

Remini said he stays on the sidelines every football game with an automated external defibrillator (AED) by his side. He said he remains ready to tackle any injuries or health concerns during a game or practice.

Luckily, he said he does not spend too much time on the field from sports injuries, and he said using the AED is extremely rare.

“I just got to make the joke that I don’t want to have to work because if I’m having to work, that means somebody is injured,” Remini said.

However, he said the staff does have a specific plan in place for emergency situations like Hamlin’s if they need to use it.

“Once you kind of make that call, like I said, you’ve got somebody else that’s responsible, and they go in there and they cut the pads in the jerseys,” Remini said. “They step out of the way, and once we determine that it is a cardiac situation and we are going to use the AED, you’ve got somebody on hand with it. It’s open, it’s on. The pads are ready to go, so as soon as the chest is exposed, you put the pads on. Everybody backs away, and then the AED takes it from there.”

Remini said the staff and administration have training in CPR, first-aid, stop-the-bleed, and coaches know how to operate the AED.

Even though Hamlin’s injury is not believed to be related to a heart defect, Remini does recommend getting cardiac check-ups just to be safe.

A Texas Education Code requires coaches, sponsors, trainers and directors for athletic activities to complete activity safety training programs.

Central Texas schools may have different plans in place during emergency situations like Hamlin’s, so Baylor Senior Associate Athletics Director for Student Athlete Health and Wellness, Kenny Boyd, recommends ways parents can ease their stress about sports injuries on the field.

“For parents that may be concerned, other athletes that may be concerned, ask the people that are working around you, your medical staff, your administrators, ask if they have an emergency action plan,” he said. “The ability to have those things in place and rehearsed is critical in being able to have a successful outcome out of this.”

He said most universities and high schools have taken a more intense approach to responding to injuries on the field, but it may help parents to know what those approaches are.