CPR and Sports: Protecting Athletes

When you think about sports, the first things that come to mind are teamwork, competition, and physical fitness. However, another side of sports gets little attention but is equally as important: safety measures, more precisely, how to do CPR.

Take, for instance, the recent event in South Carolina where 8th grader Kamari Williams suffered a cardiac arrest during a basketball game. Thanks to his coach’s prompt and skilled response, who performed CPR for about ten minutes, Kamari’s story didn’t take a tragic turn.

This incident reminds us why we shouldn’t separate CPR and sports. Protecting athletes from cardiac arrest and other injuries should be everyone’s priority. In this blog, we’ll talk about the life-saving potential of CPR in sports settings and why anyone involved in sports should get CPR training.

Why CPR is a Must in Sports

Athletes regularly push their bodies to the limit, which puts them at a higher risk of experiencing emergencies, including cardiac events. Some studies show that athletes involved in soccer, football, basketball, and running tracks are most prone to experiencing cardiac arrest. That heightened risk shows athletes, coaches, and even spectators need to be well-versed in first aid and CPR.

CPR can be used in emergencies when someone has collapsed or is losing consciousness. It has two main stages: chest compressions and rescue breaths. The chest compressions are applied with force to the victim’s sternum to maintain blood flow to the heart and brain, buying time until professional medical help arrives. On the other hand, rescue breaths are given to ensure oxygen flow into the victim’s lungs.

Immediate action with CPR can double the chances a victim has of surviving, especially in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. For athletes at the most risk of such emergencies, having teammates, coaches, or nearby individuals who can efficiently perform CPR can become a lifesaver.

When CPR Becomes Necessary in Sports

During sporting events, CPR typically becomes necessary during high-stress situations where quick and informed action can truly save a life. Let’s talk about some of the most common medical emergency scenarios you might encounter on the sports field:

    • Cardiac arrest – Some reports say that roughly 1 in 50,000 athletes experience sudden cardiac arrest. It’s a serious medical emergency that requires immediate CPR to keep blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until medical professionals arrive at the scene. By performing chest compressions and rescue breaths, you’re essentially taking over the heart’s job, which can make all the difference for the victim.

    • Drowning during water sports – If someone is pulled from the water unresponsive, with no breathing or pulse, CPR becomes their best chance at survival. Water in the lungs can prevent oxygen from reaching the bloodstream, but by administering CPR, you can help oxygenate the victim’s blood.

    • Heatstroke – This is a real danger during strenuous activities in hot climates. It happens when the body overheats and can’t cool down, leading to symptoms like confusion, seizures, and unconsciousness. Knowing first aid can help you recognize the signs of heatstroke and respond by cooling the person down while calling for help.

    • Concussions – Resulting from blows to the head during sporting activities, can sometimes lead to life-threatening conditions that require immediate action. Knowing how to manage a person’s airway and monitor for changes in consciousness can prevent further injury and ensure they get the medical attention they need.

    • Sprains and fractures – Broken bones and dislocated shoulders are pretty common sports injuries. They require careful first aid measures to prevent shock and ensure the person is stable until professional help arrives. Similarly, sprained ankles or wrists, common in many sports, need proper first aid to reduce swelling and pain, preventing the situation from worsening.

    • Asthma attacks – If the person stops breathing or they go unconscious as a result of an asthma attack, you’ll need to give them CPR. Knowing how to use an inhaler and perform CPR can make a significant difference in outcomes for asthmatic athletes.

In all these scenarios, responding quickly and effectively can save a life. That’s why South Carolina requires all paid or volunteer coaches to be certified in CPR and AED.

Essential Equipment and Resources for First Aid and CPR

Effective CPR and first aid readiness in sports facilities start with having the right equipment and resources. You’ll want to ensure you have a well-stocked first aid kit that includes the basics:

    • Gloves

    • Bandages

    • Antiseptic wipes

    • Face shield or mask

    • Allergy medications

    • Instant cold compress

    • Emergency blanket

    • Thermometer

    • Hydrocortisone cream

    • Burn cream

Another vital piece of equipment is an Automated External Defibrillator. Having an AED nearby can significantly increase the chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Like your first aid supplies, the AED should be in a location that is both easy to reach and clearly marked. You don’t want to lose precious seconds during an emergency because someone couldn’t find the equipment.

CPR training is also a key resource. Sports staff must have regular training and valid certifications in both CPR and AED use. This knowledge will allow them to act swiftly and effectively when it matters most. Every sporting venue should keep a list of current staff members trained in CPR and AED use, along with the expiration dates of their certifications, to ensure they get renewed regularly.

Concise instructions for calling emergency services must also be readily available. This includes posting emergency numbers in prominent locations and having a plan outlining the steps to take during a cardiac emergency.

Getting CPR Certified As a Sports Coach

As a sports coach, getting CPR certified is a vital step in ensuring the safety of your athletes. Your first move is to select the appropriate CPR course. Not all courses are created equal, and you want to find one aligned with the AHA or the American Red Cross guidelines. Once you’ve chosen your course, it’s time to hit the books and attend class.

These sessions mix theoretical knowledge and hands-on practice to prepare you for real-life emergencies. You’ll learn everything from performing chest compressions to using an Automated External Defibrillator. To become certified, you’ll need to pass both written and practical exams, demonstrating your ability to perform CPR under pressure.

You must get recertified every two years to keep your skills and knowledge fresh. The recertification process often includes a review of your skills and may introduce new techniques or updates in procedures, ensuring you’re always prepared to respond effectively in an emergency.

The Final Score: CPR and Sports

It’s clear to see that there can be no separation between CPR and sports. Protecting athletes at their most vulnerable moments should always be a priority for everyone participating in or watching the game. That’s why it’s vital for anyone involved in sports, from the coaches to the players, to have a solid understanding of CPR.

By fostering a culture of CPR education and preparedness, we can all play a part in ensuring every player’s safety on the field. So, if you haven’t already, make the leap and invest in CPR training classes in Columbia, SC. Equip yourself, your team, and your community with the knowledge and skills to act swiftly and effectively during a sports crisis.