UVA students and emergency personnel stand in front of a helicopter used for emergency transport

Athletic Training Students, Local Community, Health Care Providers Partner to Prep for Emergencies

In partnership with the Crozet community and emergency providers, UVA students helped create and test an emergency action plan for patrons of Crozet Park.

Audrey Breen

On a Sunday in April, University of Virginia students joined forces with organizations across the Crozet community to test an emergency action plan for those utilizing the town’s local community-owned park. The Crozet Park Board of Directors, a community group based in the town located near Charlottesville, partnered with faculty and students from the UVA School of Education and Human Development’s Master of Science in Athletic Training program to design and practice an emergency action plan. The event included the Crozet Fire Department, the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad, and the University of Virginia Pegasus Program.

“Unfortunately, each year in the United States lives are lost in sport due to emergent situations such as cardiac arrest, heat stroke, or head injuries,” said Jake Resch, associate professor of Kinesiology and the primary facilitator of the partnership.

The goal of this partnership was to create and test an emergency action plan to reduce the amount of time from the collapse of an athlete or park patron to the response from the emergency management system.

“A well-designed and, more importantly, practiced emergency action plan may prevent deaths associated with sport,” Resch said.

Specifically, this simulation aimed to ensure the safety of those using Crozet Park for activities like baseball and soccer, as well as the pool and other community functions.

“Our hope is that the emergency action plans, upon implementation, will facilitate enhanced communication between emergency medical services and coaches, athletes, and bystanders who identify someone in need,” Resch said. “In the event of an emergency, every minute counts.”

For Erin Moore, assistant professor, and coordinator of clinical education for the Master of Science in Athletic Training students, this opportunity offered UVA students the chance to create and implement their own emergency action plans, increasing their knowledge and proficiency in a life-saving athletic training skill.

Under Moore’s direction, athletic training students visited multiple locations in Crozet where sporting events are held. There, the students met with a local site manager and ultimately created an emergency action plan for five separate sites, one of which was Claudius Crozet Park.

On April 23, the graduate students, seven Crozet Park board members and fifty community members gathered to hear an overview of the importance of an emergency action plan and discuss the implementation of the life-saving plan at Claudius Crozet Park. The plan was then activated with a simulated emergency that engaged the Crozet Fire Department, the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad, and the University of Virginia Pegasus Program.

"Seeing this as a student, at the start of their career, is an incredible opportunity and model for their future," Moore said.

She also highlighted the value of students connecting with the local community and working with other health care providers within the community. 

"As athletic trainers, we care for all ages," Moore said. "I was thrilled to have our students provide a high standard of evidence-based care to assist with the safety of athletes in Crozet.”

This project provided the students an opportunity to engage with emergency services including Western Albemarle Rescue Squad, Crozet Fire, and with Pegasus Life-Support Flight unit.

“To achieve this success in patient care and collaboration, creating these strong relationships with emergency services is essential,” Moore said.

Kim Guenther, president of the Claudius Crozet Park board of directors, believes planning and practicing for emergencies at the park helps keep community members safe.

"On any given day, community-owned and operated Crozet Park hosts youth soccer, softball and baseball, runners and walkers on the perimeter trail, neighbors with their dogs in the dog park, and athletes on the grounds, in the pavilions and in the fitness center and pool," Guenther said. “Initiating an end-to-end simulation would not have been possible without our partnership with UVA graduate athletic training students, their professors, and first responders."

“The event was extremely successful,” Resch said. “Our goal is that the new emergency action plans will be able to be activated by anyone, regardless of their age or profession, to facilitate timely care.”

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Laura Hoxworth