It’s one thing to have medical personnel on site at an athletic event, but it’s another when they are all synched up with an action plan in place to react should a medical emergency happen. That’s why you need to make sure that medical teams at your athletic associations are conducting official Medical Time Outs (MTOs).
In 2012 the National Athletic Trainers Association determined that MTOs should be conducted on all sidelines before any athletic event begins. This means that all medical personnel from all sides come together to share information and agree on their response plans in the event of a medical emergency.
The home medical team, usually lead by an ATC or EMT, should take the lead and communicate when and where the MTO will take place. The medical teams for both sides will come together to introduce themselves and note credentials of all medical team members. Everyone will share cell phone numbers and squad base number, as well as record fire department and campus security contact information. If radios are available, equipment instructions and frequencies will be shared. The team will note all medical equipment available on both sidelines including AEDs, backboards, oxygen, facemask removal tools, etc.
Key hand signals will be agreed upon and communicated with officials and coaches to indicate a need for medical response. Primary responders for certain key situations will be assigned. Concussion protocols will be agreed upon. The team will determine the procedure for back-boarding an athlete and assign a lead team member for head control and back-boarding procedure. Teamwork responses are discussed for spectator illness, sudden cardiac arrest and heat stress with rapid cooling options. The medical team also works to determine the landing zone location should aeromedical support be needed. At the conclusion of the MTO, the medical team should communicate with game officials, coaches, and other key personnel of all hand signals for emergency response needs on the field of play.
Unfortunately, six years after MTOs were determined to be a best practice, not all schools and athletic associations follow these recommendations. As parents, you should ask if MTO’s are conducted where your child plays and if not, insist that it happens. Your child’s safety and wellbeing should be the top priority. No one wants a medical emergency to occur, but it is imperative that there is a clear plan of action in place should an athlete go down.