Athletic trainers at NC high school football games hard to come by

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While the North Carolina law mandates a first responder or a licensed athletic trainer stand by at all high school football practices and games, finding enough trainers is hard to come by.

Que Tucker, interim director of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, said part of the issue is finding trainers to work in smaller, more remote high schools.

“In remote areas of the state, people are not interested in being in smaller counties,” Tucker said.

Paying licensed trainers to be there for games and practices is also an issue because not every school has the financial resources to do so.

According to the North Carolina Athletic Trainers Association studies show:

  • Three times as many catastrophic football injuries occur in high school as opposed to college
  • North Carolina High schools have had nine student athlete deaths since 2008.
  • Of the 48 high school athletes who died nationally in 2010, more than half were cardiac related. Other causes included three head injuries and heat-related injuries.

Even if there is no licensed trainer at a game, first responders should be able to deal with most situations, Tucker said.

“They have to be CPR certified. They have to have taken first aid course specific to athletes,” Tucker said.

Ambulances are not mandated to be stationed at games. Schools must pay for one to be on the sidelines.

“In Charlotte/Mecklenburg, they pay to have a vehicle at every one of the home contests,” Tucker said.

At other games in rural areas, some EMS will do a standby.

“In a small system where there is only one high school in the county and it’s the only thing going on on a Friday night, that ambulance will station itself and they becomes the dispatch point,” Tucker said.

Currently the NCHSAA is in the beginning stages of s study to see how many of its member schools have certified trainers available.

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