In light of recent secondary school sports safety issues in Kentucky, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) had followed with concern a proposed state bill requiring high school coaches to complete first aid and sports safety training on athlete heat stroke and cold emergencies. This measure was in response to the death of a teenage football player at a sweltering summer practice last year.
"We agree that the bill is a good start, but falls far short of what needs to be done," says Marjorie J. Albohm, MS, ATC, president of NATA. "A course in prevention will make coaches aware of some of the dangers. Such a course, however, is not going to prepare a coach for an emergency situation. When a student athlete goes down on the playing field with a serious medical condition, it is the athletic trainer who is educated to serve as the first responder. Coaches have a vital role on a team but it is the role of the health professional to care for related health conditions. The bill as it is now written may give a false sense of security to athletes and their parents – and probably to coaches and school officials as well."
With the proliferation of school sports, and increasing student athletic participation, the importance of proper on-site health care has never been greater. Yet only 42% of high schools have access to athletic trainers. Immediate care can reduce the onset of short- and long-term quality of life and financial consequences from numerous medical conditions and injuries including concussion and heat illness. In these challenging economic times, the importance of student sports safety and the cost associated with on-site athletic trainers remains critical. Athletic trainers can assess an injury to determine proper referral and eliminate unnecessary emergency room and physician visits which can be costly to the parents.
The American Medical Association recommends certified athletic trainers in all high school athletic programs, signaling its continuing commitment to youth sports safety and a confidence in the athletic training profession.