Trainer: High schools need emergency plan

Band-Aids, athletic tape and crutches are not good enough for Jon Almquist, the athletic training program administrator for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.

If a high school does not have an athletic trainer on the sideline at every sporting event, he isn't satisfied.

"It is essential to have them for so many reasons," said Almquist, who recently spoke at a Youth Sports Safety Summit about the need for emergency action plans in high school sports. "If school systems can provide hundreds of student athletes to play sports, they should also provide the high schools with athletic trainers to provide proper care to those hundreds of student athletes."

Problem is, there is a resistance to hire athletic trainers at high school's all over the country because of lack of funding.

"It's really unfortunate," Almquist said. "Parents and coaches take a big risk to allow kids to play when there are no athletic trainers at the school. Everyone from a cheerleader to a football player should have access to an athletic trainer. It should be a top priority."

Below is a list of athletic trainer tips Almquist offered when he recently spoke with ESPN High School.

Know the difference

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking coaches and/or strength trainers are athletic trainers.

"Coaches are not athletic trainers," Almquist said. "Yes, they are professionals, but athletic trainers are the ethical health care providers. Coaches don't know the risks and they are not educated to take care of injuries."

Almquist is a big believer in differentiating the words "athletic trainer" from "trainer."

"A trainer is a personal trainer who helps with workouts," he said. "An athletic trainer is licensed by the state and ATC certified. They know how to treat an injury properly."

Make a difference

Don't have an athletic trainer on the sideline? Go ask for one, Almquist said.

"It comes down to priorities," he said. "Money is spent everywhere. Where is the money for athletic trainers?"

Almquist cited the "Position Proposal Guide for Certified Athletic Trainers" as a tool to help convince school districts to hire athletic trainers. The proposal can be used by anyone, he said, and can be found here: http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/position-proposal-guide-for-certified-athletic-trainers-in-secondary-school-athletics-programs.pdf

Have an emergency plan

Almquist believes every student-athlete and parent should be educated on action plans in case an athletic trainer is not near when an injury occurs. Here are his recommendations:

Prevention first: Make sure the facilities and equipment you play in is safe.

"You don't play football with a motorcycle helmet," he said. "First is to make sure whatever you are doing is safe. Be smart about it."
Also, when an injury occurs, don't try and help the student athlete off the ground.

"Stay put," Almquist said. "Wait until the proper personal get to the scene."

Know your surroundings: Student-athletes should always know where the nearest phone is to call paramedics as soon as possible. Thankfully, these days most kids have cell phones.

"But do they know the address of where they are playing?" Almquist asks. "Always know where you are playing so you can help get the paramedics there faster. Sometimes the field near the red barn doesn't help."

Know CPR: Almquist said every student-athlete and coach should know CPR.

"It's extremely easy to do," he said. "It can save a life before the proper medical personal can get on the scene.

Listen to your athletic trainer

Almquist wants to make sure student athletes realize athletic trainers are not there to kick you off the field.
"A big misconception is athletic trainers don't want you on the field," he said. "That isn't the case. We want you on the field. Don't be scared to approach your trainer. We are not against you."

Also, make sure to not be afraid to go to an athletic trainer or physician.

"A lot of student athletes have the mentality of thinking they can play through an injury," he said. "That's not smart. Often times if you go to an athletic trainer at first sign of an injury it will prevent you from major injury."