Students make sport of medicine

Competition, education blend at statewide event in Vancouver




Hope Morrow, a senior at Yakima’s West Valley High School, nearly halved her time at taping an injured ankle from 48 seconds last year to 28 seconds this year.

“I’ve improved a lot; I’ve been practicing,” Morrow said.

Morrow was one of about 600 students who converged on the Hilton Vancouver Washington Hotel and Convention Center on Friday and Saturday for the 18th annual State Sports Medicine Competition and Symposium.

The event featured practical, written and oral competitions in sport medicine-related knowledge, as well as guest speakers and student presentations.

This is the first time in more than a decade that the competition was held in Clark County. None of the competitors were from Clark County, though nine students from Vancouver’s Heritage High School volunteered as models to receive wrapped arms and ankles and other procedures from competitors.

Lack of local participation is one reason Vancouver was chosen as this year’s location, said Gary Clinton, president of the Washington Career and Technical Sports Medicine Association.

“There are great sports medicine programs at schools in the area that belong to the (association), but very little participation in these leadership activities,” Clinton said. “It’s like getting a subscription to a newspaper and not reading it.”

Thirty-six of the association’s 43 member schools and 607 of 3,500 student members participated in the event this year, Clinton said.

Mike LeFore, head of Heritage High School’s medical science program, said his students weren’t able to do enough fundraising this year to compete. The program attracts about 200 Heritage students at a time. It was developed to help address employee shortages in the nation’s health care industry, especially nurses.

“Normally, we bring a group to compete,” LeFore said.

LeFore, who helped develop Heritage’s program, said the association’s competition has shifted more toward general medicine, from a previous focus just on sports medicine, to reflect increasing demand and students’ increasing interest in the larger health care field.

“There’s been an increase in medical terminology in the competition and things that go beyond sports medicine (like CPR),” he said.

Most of his students aspire to work in the medical field but not necessarily in sports medicine.

Heritage junior Connor Murphy, who volunteered as a model Friday and Saturday, wants to be a biomedical engineer. The towering teenager submitted to some ankle-taping on Friday.

“I lost some leg hair,” he joked.

Students also competed in CPR methods, their ability to identify different parts of anatomy and medical terminology, among other tasks and skills.

Elma High School junior Nate Raffelson said the CPR competition was challenging and a good way to focus on improving certain skills.

For example, he was asked to perform CPR as a second responder, meaning a first responder was already on the scene performing the procedure. As a result, he had to walk in and know how to help and take the next step, such as asking a bystander to call for help or using an automated external defibrillator.

Lee Thompson, an Elma teacher, said the competition was useful for identifying improvements for his school’s relatively new sports medicine program by looking at what’s offered at other schools.

“This is the first time we’ve been here,” Thompson said. “It was more of a fact-finding mission.”

Morrow said student presentations gave her and her classmates an opportunity to share things they had learned from their own mistakes.

For their presentation, Morrow and her peers analyzed what could be learned from a cheerleading accident in which a West Valley cheerleader broke both wrists. The cheerleader was thrown into the air, but the base wasn’t able to catch her, so she fell forward on both hands, Morrow said. The group determined that a spotter should have been in front of her to prevent the injury, Morrow said.

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