AVON, N.Y. (WROC) — Following Monday night’s tragedy on the football field, we’re learning more about how professional sports teams prepare for emergencies.
Especially life-threatening ones, even if incredibly rare.
Each NFL team has a medical staff, required to undergo simulation-based training.
One Avon-based facility provides training for all 32 NFL teams. Along with that, they provide training to NBA, MLB, MLS, NCAA, NHL and hospital-based athletic training outreach programs.
News 8’s Eriketa Cost got a tour on Wednesday to learn more.
The program is called Sports Medicine Concepts.
“I can tell you without question, they were ready for this,” said founder and program director Mike Cendoma, of the medical response to Damar Hamlin’s collapse.
Cendoma said he knows the medical teams for both teams.
He provides a very hands-on training for them. It’s simulation-based, and includes actors playing out scenarios, dummies and even an ambulance.
“They have a staff of athletic trainers on the sidelines,” said Cendoma. “Team physicians, airway management physicians, trauma physicians, EMS including critical care paramedics and paramedics beyond the sidelines,” he said. The list goes on.
Cendoma calls it a, ‘functioning trauma unit’ on the sidelines at all times.
“They have trained together over, and over and over,” he said. “So these episodes are not foreign to them.”
Cendoma said what happened to Hamlin is highly unprobeable. The risk of catastrophic injury in sports is less than one in one thousand injuries, he said. Something like cardiac arrest — even more uncommon in football, compared to other sports.
But their job, is to be ready at any second.
“They are required to go through the scenarios at least one time a year, but many of the teams will go through this multiple times,” he said.
Moving forward, Cendoma is starting a conversation.
How can we keep athletes safe everywhere? Not just the ones on our TV.
“What can we learn from the preparation that the NFL does,” he said. “And what can we do to bring that home to every athletic field? Every football field in high school in America. Every basketball court, every ice rink,” he said.
NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said preparation for these kinds of incidents started ‘many, many months’ before game day.
He said they follow an Emergency Action Plan, ensuring life-saving technology is on scene at all times.