LSU & Southern University bring together medical professionals to improve prehospital emergency care for athletes in Louisiana


On Saturday, July 9, 2016, 131 people, from athletic trainers, to emergency physicians, sports medicine professionals, emergency medical technicians, and orthopedic surgeons, gathered at the LSU Football Operations Facility for “Emergency Preparation for Athletics Course,” co-hosted by Southern University and LSU.

This intensive 8-hour hands-on and lecture course brought together medical professionals from Southwestern Athletic Conference schools, Southeastern Conference schools, high schools, and local emergency medical services and hospitals to work on collaborative solutions in handling serious sports injuries with the overall goal to sharpen their skills for prehospital care.

Attendees came from New York, California, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, representing Alabama State University, University of Florida, Jackson State University, Tulane University, Mississippi State University, Millsap College, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Terrebonne General Medical Center, Our Lady of the Lake, Ochsner Sports Medicine Institute, Cramer Sports Medicine, Acadian Ambulance, Baton Rouge General, Louisiana Athletic Care, and more than six high schools.

“Our objective was to provide critical updates to very recent changes in current standards of care related to prehospital emergency care of the critically injured athlete,” said Ray Castle, LSU School of Kinesiology’s Athletic Training Program Director. “It was vital to bring together the various healthcare providers who provide day-to-day essential care to athletes to improve interprofessional communication and provide collaborative solutions to real-life trauma situations that attendees have and/or may encounter in their respective practice settings.” 

The Emergency Care Course was developed in response to Southern University football player Devon Gales’ cervical spine injury. Gales suffered a spinal injury during a game in early fall 2015 at the University of Georgia.

“Survival may hinge on how well trained and prepared athletic trainers are,” said Ron Courson, Director of Sports Medicine, University of Georgia Athletic Association, during his presentation on emergencies in athletics and emergency action plans. 

Participants heard from reputable experts during the morning sessions, including LSU’s Dr. Ray Castle on exertional heat illness, Glenn Henry of Athens Technical College on emergency airway and oxygen administration, and Donald Carson, MD, on general medical emergencies.

Participants then broke into groups to practice hands-on necessary skills, including EPI-pen administration, hemorrhage control, tourniquet application, emergency evaluation for trauma, and core rectal temperature measurement with cold-water immersion techniques for treating exertional heat illnesses.

Ice bath
Trauma station


During lunch, keynote speaker Dr. Jerry Punch asked the crowd, “What is our motto in the medical field? We prevent, diagnose, and treat. In the climate of college sports today, we are seeing people being pushed to their physical and mental limits.”

Jerry PunchPunch challenged attendees to “look beyond the knee, the ankle.”

“I’m asking you to care above and beyond the physical illness. I’m asking you to make a difference,” he said.

Jerry Punch is an announcer and reporter for ESPN, and also spent 14 years as the director of emergency room services at a Florida hospital and served two terms as chief of staff there.

“Your training is invaluable. What you have chosen to do as a profession is important to these athletes physically, mentally, and spiritually,” said Reggie Jones, co-founder of Triumph Over Tragedies, an Atlanta-based foundation that raises money for people with spinal cord injuries and brain trauma.

Devon Gales, Baton Rouge native, gave a few words, thanking his coach, family, and friends for their support.

In the afternoon lectures, topics covered included athletic head injuries, sudden cardiac arrest, spinal injuries, and how to remove athletic equipment.

Participants then practiced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator (AED), removing helmets and shoulder pads, packaging the athlete with head immobilization devices, c-collars, and strapping techniques, and different ways to transport injured players onto spine boards.


Devon Gales


Attendees of the course refreshed their best practices for management of athletic emergencies, practiced scenario-based athletic emergency techniques, and developed interdisciplinary health care teams to provide on-field emergency care. They walked away with the necessary skills to save an athlete’s life in the case of an emergency. 


Emergency Care Course



This event was made possible by Cramer Products, LTCA Workers Comp; Southern University; the SEC Sports Medicine Committee; the University of Georgia; University of Florida; Athens Regional Medical Center, Athens, Ga.; Athens Technical College, Athens, Ga.; Athens Brain and Spine Clinic, Athens, Ga.; Baton Rouge General; and Acadian Ambulance.




Elizabeth Thomason, Athletic Trainer at Catholic High in New Iberia, Louisiana, was presented with this gift from Cramer Products for recently saving an athlete’s life at Catholic High School of New Iberia. The athlete suffered a cardiac arrest and was saved with her rapid medical response, including the use of an AED. 


Athletic Training at LSU

The Athletic Training program at LSU is a limited admissions program designed to prepare students for a successful career as a highly qualified health care professional. LSU’s Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Graduates from the program establish successful careers as athletic trainers in secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional sports programs, sports medicine clinics, physician clinics, and other athletic health care settings

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About SOK

The LSU School of Kinesiology advances the understanding of physical activity, sport, and health to optimize the quality of life for diverse populations through excellence in teaching, learning, discovery, and engagement.

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About CHSE

The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The College is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs and 18 graduate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 977 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is continually working to improve its programs.

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