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Athletic trainers reflect on NFL spotlight: “We train and prepare for events like this”

By now most of us recognize the name Damar Hamlin. We know the Buffalo Bills player suffered a cardiac event last month during a game televised on Monday Night Football. For those of us watching, we collectively held our breath as we watched the swift response by the medical team on the field and the emotional reactions of Hamlin’s teammates.

In his first TV interview since the event, Hamlin last week credited the Bills’ assistant athletic trainer for saving his life. The trainer performed CPR on Hamlin for nearly 10 minutes. Hamlin and his entire care team made a special appearance at the Super Bowl. Hamlin’s amazing recovery continues to shine a spotlight on athletic trainers. We asked some of Beacon’s certified athletic trainers to offer their perspectives on the spotlight that continues to shine on their important role.

Follow this link to learn much more about Beacon’s certified athletic trainers and our entire team at Beacon Bone & Joint Specialists or to schedule an appointment with a member of our Sports Medicine team.

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Erin Foreman, Certified Athletic Trainer

“I was watching the game that night and immediately knew what was transpiring on the field when the network returned from commercial break. I was hit with a flurry of emotions. I felt proud to be an athletic trainer, but I also felt a sense of sadness and concern. I have given CPR and I know how those medical professionals must have felt afterwards. It can be heavy.

“What happened that night has created a spotlight on the profession of athletic training and an increase in advocacy. I have seen donations for AEDs, parents and student-athletes calling for more athletic trainers in their communities, and more rehearsals of Emergency Action Plans with coaching staffs. Whether the emergency is cardiovascular, heat-related, or something else, I am proud of the preparation athletic trainers take to prepare for emergencies and humbled by the national recognition of the profession right now.

“We carry out the mission of Beacon by leading with heart. From minor to major sport injuries, behind all of the tape and ice is a well-planned and practiced Emergency Action Plan. That is the cornerstone of all sports medicine coverage. If you don’t have an athletic trainer on your sidelines, you should ask why.”

Erin Foreman, MS, LAT, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
Elkhart High School

 

Amy Heiby, Certified Athletic Trainer

“When I was watching the game and saw (Damar Hamlin) go down, I started thinking like an athletic trainer and analyzing the situation. Thinking of the response steps to take to help the athlete. I wanted him to be OK, to live. My family members messaged me saying, ‘We are proud of what you do.’

“I feel there is now an increased platform for our profession to communicate the importance of trainings, protocols, support and communication. Athletic trainers work 7 days a week with the athletes. We train and prepare for events like this. We are responsible for training other staff, responsible for getting the medical equipment out at sporting events, responsible for making sure medical equipment is calibrated so in the event any person on that field goes down we can respond proficiently. A part of me as an athletic trainer feels the world still doesn’t see us. Of course we don’t do it for the glory, we athletic trainers do it for one person: the patient.

“I want members of my communities to truly understand the role of an athletic trainer and know that a Beacon athletic trainer is a cut above the rest because we are a team with an interconnected system of many resources.

“I know first-hand what it means when a life is saved. I do what I do because I was called to this vocation. Every athlete I can protect, serve, save and strengthen is my prize. The joy I receive when I can take an athlete who feels they lost everything to an injury and be there for them from start to end, be there by their side when they get hurt, be there for them when they cry, be there behind the scenes getting them walking again, running again and be there for that great day when that athlete steps back on to the field to play again — that joy is priceless. To restore the love of the game and the means to play back into an athlete is my passion. That’s why I do what I do.”

Amy E. Heiby, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
Holy Cross College

 

Paul Widner, Certified Athletic Trainer

”I believe one of the most important notables to focus on here is the importance of creating and practicing venue specific Emergency Action Plans and education and training of coaches in first aid and CPR. While having an athletic trainer present is best practice, having properly trained coaches in emergency situations and well-practiced EAPs is just as important because there just aren’t enough athletic trainers to attend every sporting event in this country. The athletic trainer can be the lead educator and advocate of this movement.

“I’ve been an athletic trainer for 36 years.  The parents of my student-athletes know I will do everything in my power to ensure their children participate safely. Whether it’s making sure emergency equipment is available, bandaging a wound, a rehab program to complete, or someone to talk to, I’m always there for my student-athletes. Beacon allows me the opportunity to stay at the top of my game. They provide opportunities for training of required skills such as spine boarding and CPR and provide a referral system to provide the best possible care for our injured student-athletes.”

Paul Widner MSEd, LAT, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
NorthWood High School

 

Kara Werner Sanders, Certified Athletic Trainer

”Most athletic trainers who watched what was happening — watching the staff make certain eye contact and hand gestures — knew it was not good. I was just hoping that things went smoothly and that the athlete would be OK.

“Since then, there has definitely been a difference in the community and many people are paying more attention to what we do and how we do it.

“I do what I do because I love taking care of people. I want people in the community to know that we love our jobs and helping people and that we are trained medical professionals who have lots of knowledge and access to many resources to help our patients.”

 

Kara Werner Sanders, MAC, LAT, ATC, CSCS
Athletic Training Coordinator, Certified Athletic Trainer
IU South Bend