Health Team

Simulations test emergency response on football field

Posted August 9, 2013 5:27 p.m. EDT
Updated August 9, 2013 6:33 p.m. EDT

As football season draws near, the spotlight is on reducing the risk that a violent sport poses to players. 

Some solutions come from advanced equipment. Helmets, face masks and shoulder pads cushion blows to prevent injury.

Rescuing a player knocked breathless by a hard hit is a bit harder. Eric Swartz, an athletic trainer from the University of New Hampshire, is using a patient simulator at WakeMed's Center for Innovative Learning to collect data on how first responders can more efficiently get past a player's protective equipment to restore breathing and circulation.

In one simulation with a mannequin, it takes 23 seconds simply to remove the face mask, and up to 30 seconds before ventilation begins.

"That's critical. You only have minutes to save someone who's not breathing," Swartz said.

Swartz and others practice reviving a mannequin with no heartbeat. Responders start compression right away, through the pads, but they have to remove the player's jersey and pads for an automatic external defibrillator to shock the heart.

It took 51 seconds to get all the equipment off.

The goal is to find out exactly how much needs to be done for effective treatment, including how hard chest compressions need to be.

What Swartz and others learn could lead to more lives saved on football fields across the country.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire expect to begin analyzing their data by the end of the year.