Randolph football prepares for heat exhaustion emergencies

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The biggest opponent that football players face on the field, isn't always the opposing player.

In the summertime, it can be oppressive heat.

That's why Randolph School is preparing for that scenario, well before the regular season starts.

Tuesday afternoon, they held an emergency drill, where a player passes out from heat exhaustion and the coaches rush to his aid.

“Coach Shaw, call 911,” yelled Head Coach Nick Flanagan.

The drill went exactly as it should have. The coaching staff immediately assessed the situation, called paramedics, and carried the sick player to an ice bath.

“If they’re up over 104, you’ve got to get them down quickly. If you’re having trouble getting them down, you have to get them to the hospital immediately," explains Dr. John Greco, Randolph's team physician.

“X’s and O’s are one thing, but making sure they're safe that’s our biggest concern," says Coach Flanagan.

Coach says while the drill was to make sure his staff was still up on their training, he hopes the players were paying attention too.

“Pray to God that never happens, but at the same time, we want to be prepared," he says.

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In recent years, the AHSAA has tackled the issue of heat exhaustion head on.

“We don’t do two-a-days like we did way back when, because it’s just probably not the right way to go about things," says Dr. Greco.

The team's physician says coaches are becoming much more proactive when it comes to scheduling practice on a real scorcher of a day.

“If you have a high humidity day and it’s very very hot, you either cancel practice that day or you keep it very very short, under an hour. That way you lessen the likelihood of heat prostration," says Dr. Greco.

Just like a real-game scenario, Coach Flanagan knows, no matter the preparation, incidents can pop up, and hit you from your blind side.

That's why Coach preaches transparency.

"You’ve got to tell us how you’re truly feeling," says Flanagan.

He tells all of his players, he doesn't want surprises on the field. That goes for play-calls and their well-being.

“I mean I want you to give us all you’ve got, but at the end of the day, I care about them and who they are and those things a lot more than I do the other things of this game," he says.

Because the score doesn't mean a thing, if you don't have every player coming off the field at the end of the game.

“For the young athletes, they’re young athletes, they’re always going to take this with a grain of salt. But I think if you keep on harping on them, you’re certainly going to be in a better situation than you were maybe 5-10 years ago," says Dr. Greco. 

Each team is required by AHSAA to have an emergency action plan for health emergencies. Flanagan says, their drill proves, they're well prepared in case tragedy strikes.