Last week I attended the NSCA Sport Specific Conference in Addison, Texas. I thought it was a well put on event with a few good presentations and some great opportunities to talk with old friends and do a little networking.
I personally found one of the most informative presentations to be Preventing Sudden Death in Sport: Considerations for the Strength and Conditioning Coach. This topic was presented by several doctors, and athletic trainers and covered four topics: Heat Stroke, Head Injuries, Sickling, and Sudden Cardiac Death.
Each one was geared toward the strength coach and included a wealth of knowledge. As S&C coaches we all know exercises, reps, yardages, etc., but I would guess few coaches really know what diffences to look for between a sickling case, vs. an extertional heat stroke with an athlete; or that sudden cardiac arrest doesn’t have to equal death. Hearing this presentation really opened my eyes to these issues and how to save an athletes life should something occur.
The most important factor in a heat stroke is the time spent above a body temperature of 105.5 degrees F. If the time at or above this temperature is under 30 min. then there is generally no long term problems at all. Another interesting point was that aggressive cooling needs to begin immediately until the body is below 102 degrees F. The problem that many have had is they call an ambulance and cool the athlete until the EMS services arrive. The most effective cooling procedure was total body ice water immersion with a side note that churning the water continuously makes this method even more effective.
While being transported the EMS have no way to rapidly cool the body so valuable time is lost. Dr. Casa told stories of athletes being transported to the hospital, and put into CAT Scans for hours before the hospital ever realized they needed to cool the body. Every minute counts and every minute above 105.5 decreases the chance of survival.