Florida petition calls for full-time ATs

July 10, 2019

A petition in a central Florida community is asking that all of the county’s public high schools employ a full-time athletic trainer.

The petition was created online after 14-year-old Middleton High School freshman Hezekiah Walters collapsed during summer football conditioning drills and died. Lloyd Knudson, an athletic trainer at Winter Haven High School in Florida, started the petition in Walters’ honor, calling on the Polk County School Board and superintendent to make significant changes.

grass fieldAccording to reports, Walters began to vomit and seizure before losing consciousness roughly 30 minutes into the team’s program. He was transported to the hospital and died a few hours later. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

Coaches typically take some courses to educate themselves on helping athletes in the event of an emergency, but “the key word is help,” Knudson wrote in support of his petition. Schools must still employ a certified athletic trainer who knows how to respond when an athlete needs immediate care.

“We may never know if Hezekiah’s death could have been avoided if an athletic trainer was present,” Knudson wrote. “But we do know that his chances of living would have been much greater, if there was. And I’m sure Hezekiah’s family, friends and loved ones would have had some sort of closure, knowing that every possible measure was taken to help him live. But right now, that is not the case.”

In a statement to ABC News in Tampa Bay, Polk County Public Schools said it will purchase cold water immersion tubs that will be required for all outdoor high school athletics beginning with the upcoming school year.

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