Player's death raises questions about emergency response

By Eric

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- Tragedy hit a South Carolina football field Friday night.

A high school football player from Hartsville died shortly after he collapsed on the field during his school's game. Team doctors and trainers tried CPR on the 18-year-old but could not save him.

Reports say it took 15 minutes before an ambulance got to the scene.

According to school officials in Darlington County, they had an agreement with an ambulance company stating there would be a crew on hand during football games. While no law requires it, there was not an ambulance on site when Ronald Rouse passed away Friday.

Officials say he died from a condition caused by an enlarged heart.

"We talked about what went on up there and how we would react to something similarly here," said Dorchester County EMS Director Doug Warren.

Monday, Warren said the incident raised the awareness of his crews considerably.

"We try to keep a truck at the games all the time," he said.

Warren makes sure a team is assigned to every varsity and junior varsity home game within the county. If one of his on-duty trucks gets an emergency call away from the field, Warren says the next closest crew moves to the game where coverage is needed.

"It's a fully equipped ambulance with one or two paramedics, and they can handle anything that comes in front of them," said Warren. "We have trucks at the scene and we're prepared to handle whatever lands in front of us."

That includes minor injuries to the biggest medical emergencies.

Warren says if necessary, they're even prepared to airlift a patient from the far reaches of the county to MUSC or Trident Medical Center.

Regardless of the law, or lack of one, "It's the right thing to do for the community," Warren said.

Charleston and Berkeley County EMS did not respond to a request for their policies Monday.

Roper St. Francis Hospital assigns certified athletic trainers to all high school games and practices in Charleston County.