Youth football games starting to add EMTs
Jim Scolman photo
BJ Kaious, a sports medicine tech, wraps a scraped elbow during a Snohomish Jr. Panthers game on Saturday, Oct. 19 in Snohomish. Kaious is an EMT who came to Washington from Hawaii.
SNOHOMISH — When players get hurt in an NFL or college football game, they are attended by trainers and doctors.
In youth football, it’s typically coaches and parents.
Alex Leemauk wants to balance those scales.
His Arlington company, Galen Youth On-Site Sports Medicine, contracts with four Snohomish County youth football organizations to ensure an emergency medical technician (EMT) is available at each of their games.
The EMTs wrap and tape players, inspect fields, test for concussions, and treat injuries.
“Our goal is to provide (emergency) care equal to the professional level,” Leemauk said. “We’re really trying to get out and help kids as best we can.”
Galen is in its second season working with the Snohomish Panthers Junior Football Association. It also works with youth teams in Arlington, Marysville, Monroe, Snohomish and Lake Stevens under a contract with the North County Middle School Football League, as well for the varsity team for Lake Stevens’ Cavelero Mid-High school.
Eventually, Galen wants to encompass every youth team in the nation, and not just in football.
“Our mission is so big. It’s to protect children, to keep them safe,” said Heather Greenberg, a company co-founder and Leemauk’s sister.
Greenberg and her husband William moved from the clan’s Texas home last year to start Galen with Leemauk — a sailor who’s based at Naval Station Everett — and his wife, Leslie.
Medics can evaluate potentially concussed players using a cognitive assessment app called HitCheck. If a concussion is suspected, the player is immediately removed from the game.
Before each season, Galen offers baseline concussion testing, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends each year. Baseline tests give information on athletes’ cognitive speed, memory, and function. The results
can be compared to post-contact evaluations to determine the severity of a concussion.
“This year has been really crazy,” Greenberg said. “We were coming into this year really thinking about concussions, but we’ve had so many broken bones.
“We just had a kid last week who broke his humerus (upper arm bone) completely through. That’s very hard to do.”
Though there have been two neck injuries that required emergency transport, both in Arlington games, most of the aches and pains so far this season have been less serious.
For the Snohomish Junior Panthers, injuries noted in the first six weeks include one possible concussion, a hyper-extended elbow, a broken wrist, and “multiple bee stings.”
Lake Stevens injuries include a jammed thumb and bruised upper arm.
The company contracts with 18 medics to staff youth football games, which typically take up an entire Saturday.
“Staffing is a major challenge,” Greenberg said. “It really is hard to work around a medic’s schedule.”
Each medic carries a field bag with supplies for routine injuries, and a sideline bag with lifesaving gear such as a cervical collar, a headboard for players with neck injuries, and a defibrillator.
Next year, Galen hopes to contract with Seattle youth football leagues, as well as some near home in Texas. It also aims to serve other sports, such as lacrosse and semi-pro football.
“We want to keep growing, branch out, and keep kids safe around the nation,” Greenberg said. “We’re just working at it.”
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