I-TEAM: Ambulance agencies not required to be on site for sporting events

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 6:26 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2022 at 10:57 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - It’s finally time for Friday Night Lights across the Natural State.

As kids hit the field, excitement builds for rivalry games and game winnings touchdowns.

However, safety and keeping athletes healthy are at the top of most coaches’ minds during this active time.

Treatment as soon as an injury occurs is the best situation possible for players at athletic events.

Despite this, a staff shortage at area schools and ambulance agencies makes it hard for that immediate response to occur.

In Izard County, when an ambulance is available, the school tries to have one at their football field for home games.

The issue is that only one or two ambulance agencies are available near Brockwell, meaning if a call away from the field goes out for the paramedics, they must leave the field and tend to the call.

Athletic Director Kyle McCandlis, said they have trained staff on-hand at games to tend to players who may get hurt.

“At the very first of the season, when we got our football schedule, we went and met with our paramedics and our ambulance team and gave them our schedule and when they could be here,” he said. “Obviously, our coaches are AED and CPR certified.”

McCandlis explained there are times you need the knowledge of medical professionals.

“Being in a rural area like this, it is hard to get an ambulance here, but the guys we’re using do a really good job about getting to us. It was pretty comforting knowing they were there all night long,” he said.

Though Brockwell is one of the smaller towns in Region 8, it isn’t the size of the town that causes issues with ambulances.

In Jonesboro, Emerson Ambulance said it is in a challenging position with staffing shortages, but the agency is doing what it can to serve everyone.

Region 8 News reached out to the Arkansas Activities Association for clarification on what they might require schools to do.

Assistant Executive Director Bobby Swofford said the AAA can’t require an ambulance to be at every football game due to a few reasons.

“The main being that oftentimes there are not enough ambulances in a given area on a Friday night, especially when they are needed for something more drastic such as a car accident, etc.,” he said.

Swofford added schools are also required to be prepared when ambulances are unavailable for an extended period.

“Every school is required to have an emergency plan in place, but that is going to vary from school to school. Every venue is different, which would require different plans for emergency personnel,” he said.