Injury preparedness a serious issue for Liberty Hill athletics


The Independent Sports

It’s a fact of life. Football is a high-speed, full-contact sport that can lead to injuries.

And how quickly are medical personnel ready if an injury strikes?

And how close is the nearest ambulance if a player is injured during the play?

During varsity games, it’s a quick response.

“We usually have (an ambulance). Unless we have to use an EMT type-thing,” Liberty Hill head varsity football coach Jerry Vance said. “We usually have one on call, if we don’t have one, we usually have one ready to be there. There wouldn’t be anything that would interfere with that.”

But, what about junior varsity and junior high games?

They don’t have ambulances waiting on those contests. Instead injuries are called in when, and if, they should happen.

And that can be less than ideal, especially if an athlete is in pain.

Two weeks ago, Liberty Hill Junior High player Trey Seward was injured in a junior high football game and had to be taken to the hospital for surgery.

In a Letter to the Editor Oct. 8, his grandmother wrote that her grandson was on the field for 30 minutes waiting for local emergency responders to arrive.

Fire Chief Anthony Lincoln of Williamson County Emergency Services District #4 addressed the incident during a town hall meeting Oct. 8 as well as in an email to The Independent Tuesday.

Lincoln said the 911 call center received the call at 6:38 p.m. Oct. 1. Fire and EMS were dispatched at 6:40 p.m. to 176 Stadium Drive, and responded at 6:41 p.m. and arrived on scene at 6:45 p.m. and cleared the scene at 7:19 p.m.

“It did come to us as a priority 4 call, which EMS and Fire respond no lights and sirens (information received at dispatch did not indicate a emergency response),” Lincoln said. “This 911 call was called in by Coach Mason.

“We are only contracted by LHISD to provide First Responder at the home games for the varsity only. That is not for an ambulance just Medical First Responder. That cost is $280 per game,” said Lincoln.

Having an ambulance available at every high school and junior high sport is something the governing body of high school sports, the UIL, can’t enforce.

“There is no requirement for schools to provide ambulance service, or other emergency service at high school football games. The lack of available services in some areas would cause schools to cancel games if ambulance service was required,” a UIL official said in an email to The Independent.

The UIL does have a check list for schools in regards to emergency preparedness, which it shared with the newspaper.

1. Immediate, on-the-spot first aid by an adequately trained individual.

2. A telephone or other communication device to contact a doctor, ambulance, or emergency clinic.

3. A designated emergency vehicle. If an ambulance is not available, another suitable vehicle should be ready for quick utilization.

4. Notification of parents of injured player.

5. Proper arrangements at hospital or clinic to insure complete care of injured student.

Any plan of action should be carefully covered in advance with responsibilities of each party specified. Trainers, coaches, vehicle drivers, school administrators, and local law officers should function as an informed, effective team. Communication is the key to an effective athletic emergency care plan. Everyone – school personnel, medical professionals, transportation staff – must know exactly what is to be done in an emergency and who is responsible for each task, the document states.

Liberty Hill follows those rules, Vance said, and all injuries are treated seriously.

“You’re always prepared for it, but if you worry about it. There’s not anything we can do,” Vance said. “We’ll get people here just as soon as we possibly can in a safe and prudent manner and we’re darn sure not going to take anybody’s injury for granted. We will treat them all as serious as if it was my own granddaughter.”