Every medic has been there at least once; you are attending to a patient and you encounter something completely new. It could be a medication you have never seen, or a disease you have never heard of. For an event medic, it is often a sports safety system we have never seen and we often have no idea how it works. Of course this can be prevented with proper preplanning by event medics and event organizers. However, this article will focus only on several new sports safety devices that event medics should be on the lookout for. Sports safety systems are now ubiquitous in most sports. From helmets and eye protection, to knee and elbow pads, many sports now require some safety protection. However, as sports practitioners become better, faster, higher flying, and more daring, safety systems have had to keep up. Also, new technologies that are lighter and stronger allow athletes to take their craft even further. Several of the following products are brand new. And some have been around for quite some time, but are only now seeing widespread use. Either way, event medics always need to be on the lookout for these new safety devices.
Eject Helmet Removal System
The Eject Helmet Removal System is a device that is used, not to protect an athlete, but to prevent further injury during helmet removal after an injury. The device is a small folded bag, that is pre-installed in the helmet, or inserted by trained medical personnel. The bag is then slowly inflated, slipping the helmet evenly off the patients head. When used properly, the Eject is said to reduce the movement of the cervical spine during helmet removal. This device is most commonly seen during Motocross events, and has seen wide acceptance among riders. Some motocross organizations are now requiring riders at their events to have the device pre installed. The maker of the Eject, Shock Doctor, also makes a version that is designed to be inserted after a crash if there is not a pre installed device. It is important to note that proper training is a must before using the Eject system.
The above and more information available at www.shockdoctor.com and www.ejectsafety.com
Point Two Air Jacket
The Point Two Air jacket is a relatively new device designed to prevent, and reduce the severity of, injuries sustained during equestrian events. The device is a vest worn by the rider. The vest has a lanyard attached to the saddle which, when pulled (as during a fall), will cause the vest to rapidly inflate. The device is said to better protect the rider from thoracic, abdominal, and some spinal injuries, than the current standard, non-inflating vests. The manufacturer, Point Two, says the vest fully inflates in 0.1 seconds, and protects the rider six times better than standard equestrian vests. The Air Jacket, or others like it, are now in widespread use at some equestrian events, mainly the discipline of eventing. The vests are not generally used for horse racing or steeplechase events. EMS providers should know that the vests are fairly easy to remove after inflation, and are safe to cut away after inflation. Care should be exercised when treating a patient with an un-inflated vest. The vest should be properly disabled before removal. Also, the vest provides no special protection to the cervical spine, and normal precautions should still be taken.
The above and more information available at www.point-two.co.uk
HANS, Hutchens, and Isaac Devices
Head restraint devices are, fortunately, now almost universally accepted as required car racing safety devices. After several high profile deaths in the racing world from basilar skull fractures, the motor sports world went looking for a new safety device. These devices work by simply restraining the head from whipping forward during a high energy frontal impact. This prevents what is known as whiplash, but also the much more deadly basilar skull fracture. The device most commonly seen is the HANS device. HANS stands for Head And Neck Support. The HANS is used by most professional motor sports organizations. The similar Hutchens device was once very popular, but usage has declined in recent years. The HANS and Hutchens devices use simple webbing connected to the back of the helmet to the racing harness or a brace. The webbing prevents excessive movement of the head. The Isaac device, while operating on the same principle, works slightly different. The Isaac uses small shock absorbers, or dampers in place of webbing. For EMS providers, a working knowledge of how to extricate and treat patients wearing these devices is vital. There is no single consensus concerning the proper removal/no removal by EMS providers. Therefore, be sure to consult your medical director, and the event medical staff before the event.
The above and more information is available at www.hansdevice.com, www.isaacdirect.com, and www.hutchensdevice.com
The above safety devices are only a few of many new safety devices that are developed every year. As an event medic, it is imperative that proper training, research, and preplanning are done, so that all event medical staff are aware of the specific needs of each event. If you still happen to encounter something new and unknown at an event simply work around it as best you can, or enlist the help of the event staff or other athletes, as they may know what you don’t!
This article is not sponsored by and is not an endorsement of any product. It is meant only for the education of EMS personnel on new sports safety devices. Eject, Shock Doctor, Point Two Air Jacket, HANS Device, Hutchens Device, and Isaac Device are trademarks of their respective owners.