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ECRMC teaches coaches emergency first aid

June 30, 2002|By TIM YANNI, Sports Writer

Athletes and coaches in the Imperial Valley are pushed to the limit every time they step onto the playing field, thanks to the hot climate and the nature of the games they play.

That's reason enough that anyone involved in athletics be educated in how to deal with and treat injuries, including those related to heat.

Saturday, for the third year running, El Centro Regional Medical Center sponsored a free coaches' clinic that teaches coaches and others who work with athletes what they need to know about first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Registered nurse Judy Cruz coordinated the clinic and said she was glad to see coaches take advantage of the class that would normally have cost them $60.

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"They learn what to do in the event of an emergency," Cruz said. "They'll learn to recognize when they can handle it and when they can't."

Cruz said experts emphasize that first aid is not only knowing what to do in case of an emergency, but in many instances, knowing what not to do.

In dealing with heat-related conditions, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, Cruz said prevention is the best thing anyone can do.

"The humidity increases the way that the temperature affects you," Cruz said, explaining why frequent breaks and plenty of water are necessary during the late Imperial Valley summers. "Their natural sweating mechanisms won't work when it's humid."

Cruz said drinking lots of water is essential but in cases of more severe dehydration, "Gatorade is better because it gives them sugar and salt."

"Water is good for regular purposes," Cruz said. "You have to replace the sugar and salt also."

Cruz said coaches need to know the stages of dehydration and she indicated that even thirst is a symptom of mild dehydration.

"If you have dizziness, unconsciousness or fainting, that's a 911 call," Cruz said. She added drinking plenty of fluids should prevent dehydration from getting out of hand.

Michelle Valenzuela of El Centro was in attendance because her employer at the Conrad Harrison Youth Center highly recommend all recreation leaders take the course.

"We have to be CPR certified," Valenzuela said. "I learned a lot. If something happens to them, I'll be prepared to help."

Valenzuela said she learned a variety of important techniques at the clinic, including what to do when babies are not breathing and recognizing the symptoms of dehydration and heat-related ailments.

David Strong of Holtville attended in order to renew his certificates.

"It's all required to keep certified," the Holtville High cross country and track and field coach said. He added timing for the clinic is perfect for him because it's one less thing he will need to worry about as the school year gets closer.

"You come back and you get reminded of what is the most efficient," Strong said. "There's been several people talking, which kind of breaks up the monotony."

Francisco Soto, who is out of the Los Angeles area, said he will be coaching Pop Warner football in Imperial Valley this fall.

Soto said even though he learned much of what the clinic discussed when he served in the Army, he feels it is important to be reminded of everything on a regular basis.

"It's an interesting class," Soto said. "They go through everything we're supposed to learn."

Soto said to prevent heat exhaust or related conditions, he plans to allow his football players plenty of water breaks and he promised not to overwork them.

"We want to treat them as if they're one of our own," Soto said.

Cruz and the team of instructors who spoke of different conditions throughout the day held hands-on demonstrations for the coaches in both CPR and first aid.

"Even though it may not seem like they're doing a lot, they are," Cruz said. She added that just by walking through the door, those who took advantage of the clinic were already ahead of others because of the $60 that they saved.

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