Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Athletic Training

Committee Chair

Michelle Sandrey

Committee Co-Chair

Damien Clement

Committee Member

Damien Clement

Committee Member

William Hornsby


Context: Coaches in the secondary school setting may encounter and be expected to provide emergency medical care for student athletes in the absence of a healthcare professional such as athletic trainers. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) categorized ten sudden death conditions which are common in athletics and may warrant a medical emergency. Since the coaches may not be cognizant of these common sudden death conditions, they may not be prepared to handle a medical emergency which threatens the life of student athletes. Objective: Determine if West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC) coaches are aware and prepared to provide care for sudden death conditions in athletics and determine the availability and use of an emergency action plan (EAP) for athletics. Design: The study was a prospective exploratory questionnaire analysis. Setting: WVSSAC secondary school coaches. Patients and Other Participants: Two-hundred and twenty-eight participants included any current coaches in the secondary school level who provided an e-mail to the WVSSAC. The potential number of participants included the approximately 2,000 members of the WVSSAC creating a response rate of 10%. Participants were excluded if they were not members of the WVSSAC and under the age of 18. Intervention: Participants contacted through the WVSSAC were provided a link in the cover letter to the questionnaire. After initial contact, participants were contacted by e-mail through the WVSSAC with a follow up letter with a link to the questionnaire to encourage participation or to thank the participants for prior participation two weeks after the initial cover letter was sent. The questionnaire was available for participants to complete for a total of three weeks after the initial contact. The questionnaire contained 18 questions regarding EAPs, awareness, preparedness, and provision of care for sudden death conditions, and health care provider along with demographic information. Main Outcome Measures: Difference of coaches’ preparedness of sudden death conditions including asthma, catastrophic brain injuries, cervical spine injuries, diabetes, exertional heat stroke, exertional hyponatremia, exertional sickling, head-down contact in football, lightning, and sudden cardiac arrest with an athletic trainer and without, coaches’ preparedness after completing the WVSSAC Coaching Course or not, and the availability of an athletics EAP. Results: Awareness frequencies were highest for exertional heat stroke (96.1%) and sudden cardiac arrest (94.7%) as well as for preparedness (90.8% and 87.3%), respectively. Sixty-three percent of participants with an athletic trainer as the health care provider reported the availability of an EAP. There was a significant relationship between the health care provider and coaches’ preparedness to provider care for asthma (χ 21, 228=23.621, P=0.005, cc=0.327) and head-down contact in football (χ 21, 228=20.901, P=0.013, cc=0.312). Nine of 10 sudden death conditions reported higher preparedness rates after completion of the WVSSAC Coaching Course. There were significant relationships of coaches’ preparedness for asthma (p=0.005) and head-down contact in football (p=0.013) and health care provider. Conclusion: West Virginia secondary school coaches are more aware than prepared to provide care for athletes experiencing sudden death conditions. With an athletic trainer as the health care provider, preparedness rates were higher than all other health care providers. The WVSSAC Coaching Course better prepared coaches for sudden death conditions, however additional courses for specific conditions such as asthma and diabetes can increase coaches’ awareness and preparedness.