Indiana State University Newsroom

Practice isn't just for athletes: ISU athletic trainers rehearse with emergency medical personnel

August 2, 2010

The whir of a Lifeline Critical Care Transport helicopter filled the air around Memorial Stadium as Dave Dziedzicki, Indiana State University athletic training graduate student, was lifted onto a spine board, his shoulder pads and helmet still in place.

Moments later, Dziedzicki was loaded onto the helicopter as Steve Ritchey, Lifeline emergency medical technician-paramedic and registered nurse, explained to Dziedzicki's classmates what was happening.

Dziedzicki, a Cleveland, Ohio native, wasn't injured; he was participating in a cervical spine injury drill to improve transitional care in the Terre Haute community.

"It's something you need to be prepared for, but it's not something you'd ever want to see," said Dziedzicki, who said the exercise was a good review of c-spine injuries.

He said the experience was "interesting, not being able to move, but they knew what they were doing."

Drills like this enable the participating groups-ISU athletic training services, ISU Public Safety, Terre Haute Police Department, Terre Haute Fire Department emergency medical services and Lifeline-to work out the details in the event that a medical emergency occurs during an ISU sporting event.

"We wanted to bring everyone together to practice evidence based medicine, to help provide a seamless transition of care between when the medical emergency happens to when EMS takes over the care," said Shelli Landis, co-head athletic trainer at Indiana State University. "As athletic trainers, we are the first on-site. We want to be prepared. It's all about the student athlete and providing a good transition of care."

The students have practiced lifting people onto spine boards and readying them for transport, but never with so many groups represented.

"It was great to have the collaborative effort," said Meghan Gray of Waterford, Vt., a first year athletic training graduate student. "It was a great refresher, seeing the Lifeline helicopter."

Gray has been in a situation that called for a spine board.

"It's always a little different in real life," she said. "You don't have the perfect scenarios. Crazy things happen in real life, so you always practice for the worst-case scenarios. If something goes wrong, you talk about it and try to do better next time."

Dennis Stewart, a firefighter and EMT for the Terre Haute Fire Department, learned a lot through this exercise.

"Many times when we see the folks out on the street in a bad emergency, it's not a textbook emergency," Stewart said.

Drills allow emergency personnel to ask questions, improving the mutual assistance and the response time.

"It ensures that the highest level of care is being given," Ritchey said.

While the exercise took place at Memorial Stadium, home to the Indiana State football and soccer teams, Landis said the university hosted the event as a training collaboration for providing emergency medical care to student athletes at all venues.

"The students saw that the different entities can get together to collaborate to achieve a high standard of care in a medical emergency," she said.

Photos: - Indiana State University athletic training graduate students work with emergency medical technicians at Memorial Stadium on proper techniques for transporting an athlete with a potential spine injury. Student Dave Dziedzicki played the role of an injured football player. (ISU/Kara Berchem) - Indiana State University athletic trainers and graduate students in athletic training practice with police, fire, emergency medical personnel and Lifeline Critical Care Transport staff on proper procedures for safely evacuating a seriously injured athlete for treatment. - A graduate student playing the role of an injured football player is placed aboard a Lifeline helicopter during a training exercise at Indiana State University's Memorial Stadium.

Contact: Michelle "Shelli" Landis, co-head athletic trainer, Indiana State University, 812-237-4062 or

Writer: Lana Schrock, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or