Jan 29, 2015
Q&A with Brent Faure

Pocatello (Idaho) School District

In most sports, when an injury occurs during a competition, the rest of the participants are asked to step away to give the athletic trainer room to operate. However, when Brent Faure, MS, ATC, EMT, covers rodeo, he actually welcomes people hovering over him as he’s treating an injured rider. That’s because there’s often a bull or horse still in the ring with them. Beyond facing the threat of being trampled or gored, Faure has sacrificed for athletes in many ways throughout his career. In March, he was recognized for that service when he became the first athletic trainer to be inducted into the Idaho High School Activities Association (IHSAA) Hall of Fame. Faure worked as Head Athletic Trainer and a teacher at Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho, for more than 30 years, is now the Director of Athletic Training for the Pocatello School District, and has been operating a mobile sports medicine clinic for nearly 25 years, providing mostly volunteer athletic event coverage statewide. Faure retired from teaching and school athletics earlier this year, opting to take a job as a physician extender at a local sports medicine clinic. However, before assuming his new role, Faure learned that the athletic training programs at Pocatello’s three high schools had been eliminated. Soon after, a local hospital teamed with an orthopedic clinic to reinstate the programs, and Faure was hired to oversee the operation. Now, he handles those duties while also serving again as Head Athletic Trainer at Highland and maintaining the physician extender job part-time. He also continues to run the mobile clinic, along with his wife, Caroline Faure, EdD, ATC, EMT, an Assistant Professor at Idaho State University and Head Athletic Trainer at Pocatello’s Century High School. Faure is no stranger to association work, having held leadership roles within both the NATA and the Idaho Athletic Trainers’ Association (IATA), where he served as president for the last three years. He was instrumental in getting concussion legislation passed in Idaho and helped develop the IHSAA’s wrestling weight management and certification program. In 2005, Faure was recognized with a Distinguished Athletic Trainer Service Award from the NATA and the Northwest Athletic Trainers’ Association (NWATA).

T&C: How does it feel to be the first athletic trainer in the IHSAA Hall of Fame?

Faure: It’s a great honor and I was very humbled by the letters of support from my colleagues. But when I found out how difficult it is to get inducted–there has to be a unanimous vote among the 29 judges–and how long it takes many people to get in, I was overwhelmed that I made it on my first attempt. To be the first athletic trainer makes it even more special. Hopefully it will bring some recognition to other athletic trainers in the state. In 1989 you opened Tri Med Sports Medicine, a mobile clinic that operates out of a trailer. Where did this idea come from?

I had a student in one of my sports medicine classes named Greg Vickers who was a bullfighter, and he would tell me about the lack of proper medical care for high school rodeo. Their events have always been required to have EMS on standby, but the athletes didn’t have anyone aggressively taking care of them as they would through a traditional sports medicine program.

Greg and I kept in touch after he graduated and one day we decided to partner up and apply the sports medicine philosophy used for high school athletics to non-traditional sports like rodeo. I had the medical expertise and Greg had the rodeo experience.

How is the mobile clinic funded?

In professional rodeo, there’s a comprehensive sports medicine program sponsored by a boot company that sends mobile clinics to the different arenas. We took that model to the local hospital in Pocatello, which is now Portneuf Medical Center, and asked if they wanted to sponsor a similar program for high school rodeo. We convinced the hospital that there’s a real need for medical care for these young athletes and emphasized the clinic’s ability to market the hospital to a new audience. We agreed to put the hospital’s name on the trailer and include it in all the literature produced in association with the program. The clinic was a success and over the years we’ve expanded our services to include other sports often lacking medical coverage, such as motocross and drag racing, as well as youth football, soccer, and track and field. Each year I present the hospital with a schedule of all the events we’ll be covering and we set up a budget. The hospital pays for expenses such as fuel, athletic tape, and wound care supplies. My wife and I own all the assets associated with the clinic, including the trailer, and we volunteer our time. For me, none of this is about making money–it’s about taking care of young athletes.

How is the clinic set up? Our first trailer was a 25-foot gooseneck, similar to a horse trailer, which was completely empty when we got it. We built cabinets, shelves, and a number of other things to make it suit our needs, but it was still a bare-bones setup, with no kitchen or bathroom. We currently have a 30-foot toy hauler trailer with a kitchen, bathroom, living area, and garage, but we still had to make a number of modifications to turn it into an athletic training room on wheels. In both trailers, we’ve been able to transport things like taping tables, fans, an ice chest, and medical supplies. The benefit to this new set-up is that, as the name implies, we can “haul” our “toys” in the garage area of the new trailer, including our UTV [utility terrain vehicle] and ambulance cart. The garage can also serve as a treatment area. For a sport such as rodeo, we use the garage section to treat athletes. When we’re covering a sport like youth football, we set up tents and work outside the trailer to accommodate the high volume of athletes that usually come through. We also bring a UTV because we often have to jump from field to field.

You were set to retire from athletic training and work full-time as a physician extender. What drew you to the position supervising Pocatello’s high school athletic training programs?

We had a fantastic sports medicine program at Highland for many years, and this gives me the chance to preserve it and use the model to improve the programs at the other two schools. The position also came along at the right time. I couldn’t do it if I was still teaching, so considering I had just retired, I think it was meant to be.

Why did you decide to become a physician extender?

When you’re the sole athletic trainer at a busy high school, it’s difficult to manage a serious injury. You often have to just do some triage and send the athlete along to a physician or physical therapist for them to handle the majority of treatment. At the clinic, I’m able to stay involved in the rehab process, and by working with physicians on a daily basis, I continually expand my knowledge of sports medicine.

What are the biggest challenges in providing medical care for rodeo?

The cowboy scene is a very tough environment. These kids are taught from an early age that seeking medical care can be perceived as a sign of weakness, so they very seldom do. When they do get hurt badly enough, they’ll bandage whatever body part is injured, head over to the hospital, and say, “Hey, can you fix this?” So, our primary objective has been teaching them that it’s okay to admit feeling pain, and we try to help them understand the importance of quickly taking care of an injury. We try to take the stigma out of medical treatment and get them to appreciate that going for x-ray or icing an injury isn’t an indication of weakness, but a sign that you want to compete the next weekend. When injuries do happen, our initial assessment frequently begins with, “Is this a life-threatening problem?” We see high levels of trauma down to knee and ankle injuries. We have to move quickly because there’s always a chance the bulls and horses are still loose. While I’m evaluating an injured athlete, some riders will circle around us to provide protection, and others will attempt to round up the animals. In 2006, you were voted Teacher of the Year at Highland. What are the secrets to being a great high school teacher?

It takes a lot of time and energy, both physical and mental. It was never just a job for me, though. I’ve always said, “I never go to work, I always go to school. And I love being in school.” It’s important to master the art of effortless teaching. That’s kind of tongue-in-cheek, but what it means is that once you’ve taught for a while and you know your topic well, planning new material no longer feels like a chore. You know exactly what you need to teach, and how to deliver it effectively.

You and your wife played a big role in getting concussion legislation passed in the state of Idaho. How did you help make that happen? In Idaho, the vast majority of our state government officials are very conservative, and that reflects the beliefs of most of the people in the state. As a result, a lot of education is required when you try to enact any type of change. Deep down, though, they’re very, very passionate about keeping their kids safe. By properly educating them on concussion prevention and management, we helped them understand the need for the new laws.

What’s it like being married to another athletic trainer?

Well, for one thing we have a lot in common! We’ve always enjoyed working together with the clinic and now that we’re both part of the same district’s sports medicine program, we get to cover some high school events together as well, which is great. We’ve definitely had a lot of great experiences together, and we’ve helped each other become better athletic trainers.

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