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Coaches to learn CPR

High school football players in Covington County and all over the state will be putting on the pads soon to begin fall practice for the upcoming football season.

During the grueling days of practice, proper conditioning for the finely-tuned student athletes is just as imperative as the sharpening of football skills, especially with the oppressive heat currently gripping the south.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association's (AHSAA) commitment to keeping young athletes healthy was the main impetus in the organization recently mandating that CPR training is now mandatory for all coaches in schools that fall under the AHSAA.

The action was taken by the AHSAA Board of Control during its annual summer meeting in Montgomery.

By 2005, all coaches (certified teachers) must carry a current CPR card in order to work in the AHSAA program, and the requirement which was unanimously approved, brings the organization to a new level of safety nationwide as there are only nine other states that require CPR certification for all coaches.

In conjunction with the National Center for Sports Safety (NCSS) which is headquartered in Birmingham, the AHSAA will provide training for over 7,000 coaches in the state and the NCSS has already provided training for nearly 1,000 coaches in the state since its inception last year and has a network of nearly 90 instructors through HealthSouth facilities in the state.

The network, among other groups affiliated with the NCSS, will work with the AHSAA to arrange for all coaches to to obtain their certifications.

"We always emphasize safety in our athletic program, so adding this requirement for all coaches will enable them not only to provide emergency care for their own players, but also for the entire community in which they live," said AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn.

The training will be an additional requirement to those initiated a year ago for new and first-time coaches under the Coaches Education Program, which includes Coaches Principles and Sports First-Aid courses and attending an AHSAA coaches rules clinic.

The move toward mandating CPR training for coaches was made one month after a Hoover High School player died from heat exhaustion during spring two-a-day practices. There have also been other deaths to prep players during the past several years in counties in the state such as St. Clair County.

Perhaps these deaths could have been been prevented with proper CPR measures.

According to the American CPR training web site, statistics show that the earlier CPR is initiated, the greater the chances of survival. In fact the American Heart Association estimates that 100,000 to 200,000 lives of adults and children could be saved each year if CPR were performed early enough.

Some common causes of sudden death that may require CPR include electric shock, heart attacks, drowning, severe allergic reactions, choking, drug overdose and suffocation.

If CPR is started within four minutes of a collapse, and defibrillation within 10 minutes, a person has a 40 percent chance of survival. There is an approximately 50 percent survival rate after five minutes of no CPR.

The goal of CPR is to restore circulation. If you are unable to find a pulse in an unconscious person, heart compression is necessary to restore circulation. These compressions must be coordinated with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; the breathing delivers air to the lungs; heart message pumps the oxygenated blood to the brain and other parts of the body.

People who are interested in learning CPR should visit www.cpr-ecc.americanheart.org or visit their nearest American Heart Association office.