Apr 8, 2015
Partnering for Secondary Schools Sports Safety

In an effort to bring stakeholders from around the country together to discuss secondary school sport safety issues, the NATA and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine held a “Collaborative Solutions for Safety in Sport” meeting at the NFL’s New York headquarters in late March. As detailed on the NATA’s official site, the impetus for the event came from discussions over how to implement recommendations from the 2013 “Preventing Sudden Death in Secondary School Athletics: Best Practices Recommendations” consensus statement. 

Each state association’s executive director and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) chair were invited to the event, which was designed to allow state leaders to hear from a group of experts on a variety of issues. Featured speakers included: 

  • Doug Casa, PhD, ATC, FNATA, FACSM, who spoke about heat illness.
  • Jonathan Drezner, MD, who discussed cardiac conditions.
  • Ron Courson, ATC, PT, NREMT-I, who spoke about exertional sickling and emergency action plans
  • Kevin Guskiewicz, PhD, ATC, FACSM, FNATA, who discussed head and neck injuries. 

Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer, and NATA President Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES, also spoke at the event. Various state association leaders also spoke about policies they’ve implemented and whether they’ve been successful.

As reported by USA Today, one of the key issues raised was the need for increased staffing at schools:

“If a secondary school can afford to field a football, lacrosse, or soccer team, there is no excuse for not being able to field a certified athletic trainer who can manage these emergency plans,” Guskiewicz said. “There are far too many schools that do not field certified trainers.”

Aside from addressing national issues, the meeting allowed individuals like Jody Redman, Associate Director for the Minnesota State High School League, to gain some valuable insight into what might be missing in their state’s guidelines:

“It’s been a really positive educational experience for me,” she said. “One of the things that did strike me is that we need to add something to our emergency action plans about cooling tub access for heatstroke and heat illness. That’s not included in our current emergency action plan forms and protocols. We need to make sure we add that [to our EAPs] so schools are thinking forward about that.”


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