Hamlin incident exemplifies importance of game safety
PALMER, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Western Mass News spoke with a local high school football coach to get his reaction following Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin’s collapse during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Palmer High School Head Football Coach Matt Marciniec told us that this is a reminder of why protocols are in place for players and coaches, adding that he could see this serving as a teaching lesson in our region.
“It’s a scary thing,” he said. “You never want that to happen in any sport, yet alone, a sport that I care so much about.”
Marciniec spoke with Western Mass News after Buffalo Bills’ Safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital during Monday night football before the game was ultimately suspended.
“It’s just a horrible, horrible thing that can happen, really, in the blink of an eye,” Marciniec said. “It really is important that you take the steps to prepare for the worst case scenario like that.”
Marciniec, who also serves as the school’s athletic director, said that incidents like these serve as reminders of the policies in place at the high school level.
We checked the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association handbook. It states:
“Schools must have medical coverage at all levels of football, wrestling and rugby and at varsity ice hockey games per sport rules. For all varsity football games, each team must employ a licensed physician, licensed athletic trainer or certified EMT.… The school designated as the home team… is required to have an AED on-site.”
All coaches must also be CPR certified. The Palmer coach added that it is important that everyone knows their job.
“Who’s going to call the AT over if they don’t know, who’s going to get the ambulance to the field as quick as they can – all those things are just things you can prep for,” Marciniec said.
As for lessons on the field, Marciniec told us that, although the tackle may have been a bit high, he calls it a normal play in a fast-moving game.
“A few of my players asked if I was watching and how scary it was,” he said. “We talked a little bit about it and I explained that’s why we go over tackling, that’s why we go over if something was up, what to do if you see a teammate have an issue.”
Marciniec also expects this to be a talking point when discussing safe, fundamental tackling when the preseason starts up again next August, something they focus on to make the game safer and one that people want to play.
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