How prepared are area high schools for a sudden sports injury?

“If I had a perfect world, yeah, we’d have an athletic trainer at every event”
“If I had a perfect world, yeah, we’d have an athletic trainer at every event”
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 10:31 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Damar Hamlin, the Bills safety who suffered cardiac arrest during Buffalo’s game against Cincinnati Monday night, is off a breathing tube and even FaceTiming his teammates.

It’s great news after such a horrifying incident, and he’s alive partly due to athletic trainers who acted immediately.

Here in southern Idaho, how prepared would area high schools and the College of Southern Idaho be for a similar situation?

“As soon as that happened on Monday night, my phone, along with some other athletic directors’ phones, were blowing u,p just because I think what happened Monday made everything personal,” said Jerome High School Athletic Director Scott Burton.

“If I had a perfect world, yeah, we’d have an athletic trainer at every event and every practice because ultimately, you don’t plan on sending your kid off to play sports to get hurt,” said St. Luke’s Magic Valley Director of Sports Medicine, Dr. Chad Johnson.

The resources aren’t the same at the high school level compared to the NFL, so it’s not always easy to have an athletic trainer at every prep sporting event, especially since it isn’t a requirement in Idaho.

But, schools like Kimberly, Twin Falls, Canyon Ridge, and Filer contract with St. Luke’s Magic Valley to have a trainer at each high school.

Dr. Johnson knows it’s a task to have everything covered.

“Sometimes when there’s concurrent events, that’s really tricky right, so if they’re all at the school, then we have someone that is very close and available, sometimes we have to prioritize and triage most likely to get injured sports,” Johnson said.

Over at Jerome High School, the Tigers contract their care with a local business. While Athletic Director Scott Burton is very thankful for what they have currently, he hopes in the long run Jerome can build a program in house.

“The ideal situation for getting a trainer is to have one on staff through your health occupation’s courses, you have a certified trainer who is also a teacher,” Burton said.“They teach athletic training during the day, maybe half-time and then they kind of slide into the training role in the afternoon and evening, but that’s like trying to fine a unicorn, they exist in some circles, but down in this area it’s hard to find.”

Unfortunately, a life or death situation could happen at any moment, and back in Twin Falls, CSI is making sure they are ready.

“I know here at CSI our athletic trainers actually went around with the coaches, identified AED’s (Automated External Defiblirator) looked at some safety measures in the case they (trainers) are not around.”

The Idaho High School Activities Association (IHSAA) does require coaches to be CPR certified and during football games an ambulance is required to be nearby.

Also, each Idaho high school is in posession of AED, according to the IHSAA.