MASON COUNTY — The month of March is National Athletic Training Month and a local trainer is doing his part to spread the awareness of the importance of having certified trainers at high school sporting events.
Gabe Roush is employed by Pleasant Valley Hospital as an athletic trainer and works with students at Hannan High School. Roush said athletic trainers are qualified to work with the athletic and active population.
“Here in the State of West Virginia, we’re pushing for student athlete safety,” Roush said. “So, athletic trainers provide injury prevention work. They’re capable and trained to manage injuries.”
In the current legislative session, which ends today, there is a bill — HB 4497 — that would require all secondary schools to have an automated external defibrillator device (AED) available in case of emergencies. There is another bill — HB 4105 — which would require all secondary schools to have a certified athletic trainer at all sporting events.
HB 4497, which will become a law if passed by the senate by the end of Saturday’s session, would be named the Alex Miller Law. Miller, 17, died in September 2019 at a high school football game in Roane County West Virginia. The bill would require AEDs all all practices and games and would be an unfunded mandate.
“The most recent studies show that if an AED is available during a cardiac event in athletics, the student athlete has an 89 percent chance of surviving,” Roush said. “If there’s not an AED there, but there is an athletic trainer, there’s still an 83 percent survival rate for that student athlete. Having a trained healthcare provider, that’s on site, available … insures that the survival rate improves significantly.”
Roush said that although HB 4497 would be unfunded, there are other ways to pay for the equipment.
“It doesn’t necessarily all have to fall on the school,” Roush said. “For our area, you can partner with local hospitals or clinics, then they can provide the athletic trainers as a partnership with the county school system. Or the county school system can hire an athletic trainer that also holds a teacher certificate, so they could teach during the day and work as the athletic trainer during the evening.”
Roush said that athletic trainers are AED and CPR certified. Roush also said that with an athletic trainer on site, the safety and health of the students would be the sole responsibility of the trainer, rather than having a coach or administrator certified to use an AED.
“There may be a cost toward this, but what price is a child’s life worth?” Roush asked. “Athletic trainers are not only there to prevent catastrophic injuries, but they can also save parents and school systems money by providing the treatment there on site versus an unnecessary ER trip for a sprained ankle.”
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Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.