WELLSVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – NFL player’s Damar Hamlin cardiac arrest on the field could raise questions among families of students involved in high school sports.

What would happen if a similar situation happened at a high school game in the Valley? The Wellsville Local School District is prepared as it can be, according to those in the district.

The district has implemented Emergency Action plans for games in both the middle school and junior/senior high school gymnasiums, as well as at the football field and the baseball/softball fields to insure student safety. Two portable AEDs are available for outdoor events, and an AED is also at the bowling alley for home meets.

“You know, you have to have those things readily available. You have to make sure we make good on what we promised. These are one of these things where you have them, but man, you don’t want to use them,” said Wellsville High School Athletic Director Don Elliott.

Elliott said that this plan includes that all coaches are required to have the training to perform CPR and to use AEDs.

Elliott said that there is a doctor and an ambulance at their football games, along with their trainer Katelin Hawthorne. An ambulance is available close by for other sports, and a police officer is present.

Hawthorne is contracted to Wellsville Local Schools as its athletic trainer and is employed by East Liverpool City Hospital. She created the Emergency Action Plans when she first started at Wellsville nearly eight years ago.

“It’s all there for a specific reason so the athletes can remain safe, or as safe as we can keep them, in a situation that can be catastrophic,” said Hawthorne.

Hawthorne said if an athlete would be unresponsive and not breathing, CPR would be started immediately. If they do not start breathing before the AED gets there, it is continued until the AED is there. The AED will continue to instruct after the pads are applied.

The AED can be used until the ambulance arrives or the athlete is revived.

Hawthorne said it’s important to act quickly, because the sooner you start CPR and AED treatment, the better the chance that you can revive them and hopefully be able to save them. Compressions keep the blood pumping, and the AED restarts the heart.

Hamlin was down for 19 minutes while receiving immediate medical attention. WXIX-TV in Cincinnati reported that Hamlin required an AED in addition to CPR on the field.

As of Thursday, doctors say Hamlin is making “remarkable progress over the last 24 hours.” It was reported Thursday that Hamlin is awake in the hospital.

Elliott said that along with personnel from their sports department, there are also Good Samaritans at the games that are willing to help.

“There’s usually a nurse or somebody there. If they think the injury is serious, they’ll come out and help. That’s the good thing about people. When there’s somebody in trouble, there’s usually someone who’s ready to help,” Elliott said.

In order for a school to host an OHSAA tournament game, an Emergency Action plan must be in place. The school hosted a baseball tournament game last season.

The OHSAA has a link where schools can develop their own action plan. More information on this can be found on its website.

According to former Miss Ohio and national heart health advocate Lindsey Davis, right now, there are no state laws that require AEDS to be present at high school sporting events. It is just highly recommended. Davis is currently working on another bill that requires every student to know how to perform CPR and use an AED.

Other things to consider in an emergency medical situation are:

  • Reassure and calm athlete.
  • Don’t move a severely injured athlete unless he/she is in danger.
  • Don’t reduce fractures or dislocations.
  • Sufficient lines of vision between the medical staff and all available emergency personnel should be established and maintained.
  • Once the medical staff begins to work on an injured player, they should be allowed to perform services without interruption or interference.
  • Keep players, coaches and spectators away from the injured athlete.