A collaboration between the Tennessee Department of Health and the Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports at Vanderbilt University has resulted in the nation's first statewide youth sports safety initiative, according to a report by Fox 17 in Nashville.
“When it comes to youth sports it’s a bit of a Wild West,” said Dr. Alex Diamond, an assistant professor of Pediatrics, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt, where he is the director for the Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports. “There’s no central governing body or organization that oversees youth safety when it comes to youth sports leagues.”
Safe Stars, as the program is known, is a statewide safety rating system for all types of youth sports leagues. Teams can receive bronze, silver and gold level safety ratings by achieving various requirements. Three of the Safe Stars standards include having all the coaches trained in concussion and sudden cardiac arrest recognition and management, an anaphylactic and allergy emergency plan, and an AED on site for all practices and games.
Rutherford County is the first district in the state to have all of its youth sports programs Safe Stars-certified at the gold level.
“One of the things with Safe Stars is we practice our Emergency Action Plan,” said Brad Rohling, athletic training coordinator for Rutherford County Schools. “We actually have a child act like he’s falling out from a cardiac arrest issue and they go through their EAP from start to finish. They actually go get the AED and do compressions on the kid.”
Diamond is encouraging all parents and guardians in Tennessee to ask leagues and organization’s if they are Safe Stars certified before their children participate. “We don’t just drop our kids off at pools without lifeguards,” he told Fox 17. “Why would I drop my kid off at a field or a court that doesn’t have the same level of safety and thought behind it?”