Nov 2, 2017
Extent of Coverage

The extent of athletic trainers’ responsibilities is being debated at Stevens Institute of Technology after a student was injured in an intramural athletic event. Currently, the athletic trainers are on staff only to treat varsity athletes.

The issue began after an injury during a flag football game. There was a head-on collision between two Sigma Nu fraternity brothers during an intramural match.

“I was knocked out for a few seconds, and then I was just really dizzy, and there was a lot of blood coming from my head — but I don’t remember all the details because I couldn’t think straight at all,” James Potestivo, a sophomore at Stevens who was injured, told The Stute.

The game ended early due to the injury. One of Potestivo’s fraternity brothers stayed to assist with the injury until help arrived. Although the varsity athletic trainers were on campus, they were not covering the flag football content, and Potestivo was told they wouldn’t be able to treat him because he wasn’t a varsity athlete.

“I was there with [my fraternity brother – ] for about a half hour before a female student came over and said that the medical staff [could not] help me because it is not their place since I’m not a varsity athlete,” said Potestivo.

Instead, Campus Recreation stepped in. Campus police were called, and Potestivo was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he received stitches for his head injury.

“I was on the field during the play,” said Stephanie Garino, Assistant Director of Campus Recreation. “They must have mistaken me for a student, but after we confirmed [Potestivo] was conscious and the injury was not life-threatening, we activated our emergency action plan.”

“No one knows our emergency action plan,” adds John Maurizi, Director of Campus Recreation. “They just assume we aren’t doing anything. The 30-minute estimate seems a bit inaccurate. You can finish an entire game in 30 minutes.”

The incident was brought up at a Stevens Student Government Association meeting. There was some uncertainty about the athletic trainers’ policy, which Director of Athletics Russell Rogers has stated he would be happy to clarify.

“These kind of injuries are always going to occur when people play sports. This is why we have the emergency action plan,” said Rogers.

One reason why the Stevens athletic trainers don’t step in to treat injuries to non-athlete students is that they don’t sign the liability release form that NCAA athletes have.

“Of course we are covered by Good Samaritan laws,” said Tara Donofrio, MS, ATC, Head Athletic Trainer at Stevens. “But we have to deem the situation as a life-threatening emergency for the student treat them.”

Image by John Martinez Pavliga

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