As the calendar turns over from 2017 to 2018, it is safe to say that the vast majority of high school athletes in the Calumet Region have access to an athletic trainer.

The numbers are not as comprehensive as you will find at the collegiate level but at least there is one athletic trainer present in the typical high school building who can provide care to your child.

Drop a level to junior high, though, and coverage becomes much thinner; and at schools that have such services, it is largely limited to football.

Move younger to youth sports, such as Little League, Pop Warner, and CYO, and athletic trainers are essentially non-existent.

However, according to the Youth Sports Safety Alliance (YSSA), high schoolers are more likely to suffer serious injury than collegians and those in junior high are not without significant risk.

Through the end of October, YSSA had identified 26 deaths nationwide in 2017 among athletes 18 and younger. One victim was nine years old, another 13. The remainder were age 14 or older.

That is a sizable jump from the entirety of 2016 when 17 young athletes died, yet six of those were junior high age or younger.

Contrast that with 2015 when there were a staggering 50 such deaths, with eight of the victims being 13 or younger.

So, while you may be reasonably sure that your high schooler will receive professional care in a timely manner, your younger child may very well suffer an injury or illness requiring a rapid response. Who then will be there when seconds count and what resources will be available?

In its last weekly newsletter of the year, YSSA featured the TeamSafe smartphone app, which is Apple and Android compatible.

The newsletter reads in part, “TeamSafe addresses the fact that most youth sports programs and organizations have not implemented any type of sports safety program. Most do not have an emergency action plan. Most do not provide, nor document sports safety education (CPR, Concussions, Heat Injury, Sudden Cardiac Death) for coaches, officials and parents.

“TeamSafe’s goal is to help youth sports organizations create a culture and community of safety within the environment of competitive sports. By making sports safety and injury prevention part of every sport, fitness and recreation program, parents can relax, coaches can coach and administrators can run their programs knowing that everything is organized and documented and everyone is on the same page.”

The TeamSafe app features emergency contacts for each player, emergency medical information for each player, an emergency action plan template, a concussion management and communication system, emergency care instructions and a safety education certification course for coaches.

The app’s emergency care center includes CPR, AED and Heimlich maneuver instructions; information on using an EpiPen and asthma inhaler; hazardous weather guidelines; and the basics of caring for bleeding, fractures, heat illness, dental injuries, seizures, and spinal injuries.

Designed for purchase by an entire league or athletic department, the TeamSafe app requires significant input by parents and coaches at the start of a season. Nonetheless, when needed, that information can be lifesaving if easily accessible in an emergency.

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John Doherty is licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at jdoherty@comhs.org.  Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.

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