Keuka College Hosts Empire 8 Sports Medicine Summit

An on-field emergency involving a Buffalo Bill prompted area athletics leaders to better prepare for similar incidents.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Keuka College, along with the Empire 8 Conference and Sports Medicine Concepts, hosted the Empire 8 Emergency Preparedness Workshop on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

The daylong training brought together 41 athletic trainers from 11 different institutions to participate in the Core4® program taught by Sports Medicine Concepts.

“The Core4 program focuses on four fundamental injury scenarios that we know are most life-threatening to athletes,” explained CEO and Director of Operations at Sports Medicine Concepts Mike Cendoma. “Cervical spine injury, truncal trauma with decompensation or hypotension, cardiac arrest and arrhythmia, and isolated head trauma; those are the four that historically, and in the literature, have been identified as the most life-threatening in athletics.”

The workshop had been discussed for several years, but the urgency intensified following a Jan. 2 incident in which Buffalo Bill Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field following a cardiac arrest during a nationally televised NFL game.

“When the situation happened with Damar Hamlin in Buffalo, it ignited the fact that we have to do it, and after talking to four or five other head athletic trainers in the Empire 8, we started pursuing it,” said Jeff Bray, Associate Director of Athletics for Sports Medicine and Alumni Relations and Head Athletic Trainer at Keuka College.

The training was presented thanks to support from Henry Schein, Geneva Club Beverage, and the Empire 8 Conference.

“It is important to the Empire 8 to fund this event in support of our sports medicine professionals and the safety of our student-athletes. Athletic trainers are often our first responders in emergency life and death situations,” said Empire 8 Commissioner Chuck Mitrano.

“This is a great opportunity for our institutions to assess and enhance their emergency action plan so they are prepared for crisis situations and if the conference can support that vital preparation, we must.”

The event was a rare opportunity for athletic trainers to meet and train face-to-face. Athletics teams’ schedules, limited staffing, and travel for road contests make such gatherings challenging.

“Having the confidence in your colleagues at the other schools really puts your mind at ease sending athletes when you’re not able to travel,” said Geena Flickner, an Associate Athletic Trainer at Keuka College. “(The training) does the same thing for them when they are sending their athletes here to Keuka College and they cannot accompany their team.”

The training workshop began in the classroom with discussions and demonstrations of proper procedures and techniques. They then moved into the gymnasium and the JMW Recreation and Athletics Center to do hands-on training removing various types of sporting equipment as well as practicing CPR and other emergency responses. Following lunch, they put the training to practice with full-scale simulations.

“We take a lot of pride in providing a high standard of care,” said Keuka College Associate Athletic Trainer Phil Rahr. “By doing this together as a conference, we can make sure that we are all looking at maintaining the same standard of care. I think that brings us up to another level.”

“Sports Medicine professionals are paramount to the health and safety of our student-athletes,” said the Empire 8’s Mitrano. “This event will ensure our institutions are prepared for emergency situations that are complex and require clear protocols, organization, leadership, collaboration, and clinical decision-making.”