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Buffalo Bills athletic trainers visit Indianapolis to advocate for safety protocols in youth sports

37% of public schools across the country don't have full time athletic trainers
Posted at 6:24 PM, Jun 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-22 19:15:27-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Expo is in Indianapolis this week putting a spotlight on youth sports safety.

On Thursday morning, the Buffalo Bills trainers that helped save Damar Hamlin's life were keynote speakers.

During an NFL game in January, Hamlin collapsed on the field after suffering cardiac arrest. Five months later, he's back to work with his team. The incident is raising discussions about making youth sports safer.

"It’s very important for all athletic trainers, regardless of your setting, to have an emergency action plan. Practice it, rehearse it and include other members of your team," Denny Kellington, Associate Head Athletic Trainer for the Buffalo Bills, said.

Only 37% of public high schools across the country have access to a full time athletic trainer. According to the Indiana Athletic Trainers Association, 16% of schools in the state don't have an athletic trainer.

"It’s hard sometimes for me to wrap my head around that because what we consider the norm is not the norm," David Weikel, Manager of Sports Medicine at Franciscan Health, said.

Franciscan Heath provides athletic training services to 16 high schools in Indianapolis, as well as several middle school, youth and recreational leagues.

"I think Indy overall is very fortunate. The vast majority of schools in the Indianapolis area at the minimum have access to an athletic trainer," Weikel said.

If your school doesn't have access to an athletic trainer, the Bills athletic trainers preach the importance of training others.

"I’m a father of three, and I go to these youth sporting events on a daily basis. The first thing we look for is where is the AED," Nate Breske, Head Athletic Trainer for the Buffalo Bills, said.

"Doing something is better than doing nothing. Throughout these few months, people have asked 'Don’t you need to be certified to do CPR to use the AED?' That’s not the case. Bystander care is a great way to save someones life," Kellington said.

In just over a week, Senate Bill 369 will take affect in Indiana.

It's designed to help students who may go into sudden cardiac arrest while on school property. It requires an AED to be present and accessible within three minutes of any school activity.