A youth football league is changing its rules after a 10-year-old in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, was removed from a game with a head injury and sent back in to play just minutes later.
Isabela Santiago, the mother of the young boy, said there was no communication from the EMT to the coach or herself, which could have led to a much worse situation for her son.
She said her son got hit, and complained of leg pain and his head hurting. She said he was brought off by an EMT. When he came back to the field, she says the president of the league told her he couldn’t go back in, but she thought it was just for the remaining minute in that quarter.
"The EMT said he looked fine and to just let him know if we needed anything else," said Santiago. "He never said bring him to the hospital, or he can't play for the rest of the game."
His coach, James Ellis, is paying the price. He was suspended for putting him back in the game.
Ellis said in a statement that “at some point, near the conclusion of the game #48 approached me with his helmet on and mouth piece in and said 'I am ready to go back into the game coach'."
Ellis wrote that he asked his player if he had been cleared, and the 10-year-old said yes, and when Ellis asked him how he felt, he said he felt good. A statement by Ellis read:
"In relying on my 4 years of experience as a head coach, the only time a player was ever removed from a game, the EMT approached me to inform me of the news which was only a couple of times. Removal in the past was always clear and decisive and told directly to me. We are told and instructed if a boy is ruled ineligible to play by an EMT, the EMT must inform the head coach or an assistant coach who is to inform the head coach once available. This did not happen in this instance. In Saturday's game I deduced that because #48 was left to his own devices, unattended, helmet on, mouthpiece in, and not under medical supervision, and then no one every approached me or my staff to inform us that #48 was officially removed from the game, that he was available to play. I never expected, a million times over, that such an important decision would be made without me being the first to know. We, as head coaches are not medical professionals and, as such, we rely on the EMT's opinions an decisions. If medical information is of significant importance, it must brought immediately to the head coach’s attention. In this instance, it was not.
Santiago said her son did not seem hurt, and that he was fine after she checked in with him. She called his pediatrician and took him to the doctor’s after. She said they informed her that he had no symptoms and to monitor him for a week. She said they told her to look for things like headaches and vomiting. Santiago said her son has had no symptoms so far.
"What I'm happy about is that Tyler is fine, but what I'm really upset is what is happening to Coach Ellis. That guy gives 110 percent to these kids. He volunteers his time, and they adore him," said Santiago.
She said she trusts her son with Ellis and the coaches.
The Shrewsbury Youth Association president declined to offer a statement, and would not say what EMT’s they contracted with for the game.
The organization that governs the league, Central Massachusetts Youth Football and Cheerleading Conference is taking this seriously. They have made it mandatory for all their teams’ coaches to talk directly with the EMT after every single injury.
"I feel even more safer than I already felt before. I think if we can improve on the communication and protocol so all the parents know and EMT and coaches know, I think we can only improve and learn from this situation," said Santiago.
Santiago said her son plans to start practicing again Monday after they get the all clear from his doctor.