An athlete goes down on the field and doesn’t get up. There are no medical personnel on-site to evaluate the athlete and determine the best course of action, the coaches and refs start to panic and a hush comes over the crowd as people watch the injured athlete rolling on the ground in obvious pain.
A similar situation is unfolding at another school. However, a certified athletic trainer (ATC) is on-site and runs out to the field. While keeping the athlete calm, the ATC quickly evaluates the injury. Based on the signs and symptoms of the athlete, it is determined that the Emergency Action Plan should be activated, an ambulance is called, and the athlete is transported to the hospital for further care.
Athletic trainers play a huge role in the safety of high school and youth athletics. The Safe Sports School Award program was created by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) to increase public awareness of the importance of having trained medical personnel on-site and how their role in the community contributes to safety. This award is given to schools that apply and meet certain criteria related to safety in secondary schools and depending on how many tenets the school meets, there is a hierarchy of distinction; North High School in St. Paul, MN, is proud to tout the highest.
The NATA summarizes the basic requirements for the award as follows:
- Create a positive athletic health care administrative system
- Provide or coordinate pre-participation physical examinations
- Promote safe and appropriate practice and competition facilities
- Plan for selection, fit function and proper maintenance of athletic equipment
- Provide a permanent, appropriately equipped area to evaluate and treat injured athletes
- Develop injury and illness prevention strategies, including protocols for environmental conditions
- Provide or facilitate injury intervention
- Create and rehearse venue-specific Emergency Action Plans
- Provide or facilitate psychosocial consultation and nutritional counseling/education
- Be sure athletes and parents are educated of the potential benefits and risks in sports as well as their responsibilities
Each of these parts are multifaceted and encompass an array of safety measures, all of which fall under an ATC’s scope of practice and are typically maintained and carried out by said ATC. Therefore, increasing awareness in communities without ATCs on staff is extremely important to promote the safety of our youth. For more information and to help spread the word, please visit: http://www.atyourownrisk.org/ .
“Safe Sports Schools.” NATA, NATA, 2 Oct. 2017, www.nata.org/advocacy/youth-sports-safety/safe-sports-schools.