Aug 25, 2016
Teaming Up

Athletic trainers are known for their ability to quickly assess an on-the-field injury and make good decisions. Tim Ehlers, a staff sergeant and medical training instructor for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, wondered if medics could learn from them.

“Over the past 15-ish years now we’ve been at war and we’ve learned great lessons about trauma medicine,” Ehlers told “We pound into their head every year ‘trauma, trauma, trauma.’ They can treat people with missing arms, legs, shot in the chest. But when it comes to the fundamentals of simple clinical skills — how do we evaluate a sprained knee or a sprained ankle or a shoulder or back injury — we don’t have a set training plan on how to execute those skills.”

Ehlers reached out to Denny Helwig, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine at Wisconsin, and a partnership was formed.

“The more Tim and I talked about it — the medic training and our training — we thought it would be a good way for their people to come down and observe,” Helwig said. “The same people pulling from the same resources in terms of care for concussions and it went on from there.”

For just over a year, UW Athletics and the Wisconsin Army National Guard have been leaning from each other about how to respond to injuries in the best way possible. Both staffs have visited each others’ work sites, and 13 Army medics came in small groups to observe preseason football practice this month. 

“We’re not making them into athletic trainers; they’re not making us into medics,” Helwig noted. “It’s just an information-sharing situation.”

For more, read the full article on the University of Wisconsin web site.


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