High School athlete safety
(CNN, KATV) - In the first game for the freshman football squad at Fairfax High School in Virginia, a player from the opposing team broke his arm.
It's a pretty serious injury but he's in good hands. That's because the county has two certified athletic trainers at each high school in case an injury occurs.
"They are there to provide comprehensive athletic healthcare for the entire athletic population," said Jon Almquist with the Fairfax County Athletics Administration.
Statistics point to a rise in avoidable deaths among high school athletes, mainly because of heat exhaustion, concussion and even cardiac arrest so more schools are looking at adding athletic trainers to their rosters.
The trainers are taught to look for possible problems in young players before the serious symptoms show up. Schools like Fairfax also provide special training for their trainers and coaches alike so they are ready for anything.
"So there's an emergency action plan that coaches have for every facility that they're at, where they practice and as well as where they compete," said Almquist.
Athletic trainers are also the medical experts away from home.
According to Fairfax's head athletic trainer Brett Gustman, "We do our best to contact the parent immediately upon any acute injury, to make sure that they know what's coming home."
The Fairfax County model costs several million dollars a year but many school districts across the country are looking at it as a way to protect their young athletes.
The Arkansas legislature addressed this issue in the 2011 session. They passed a bill that requires all schools to have procedures in place on how to handle major injuries, such as concussions and dehydration and forces all coaches to undergo specialized training every three years on handling specific medical situations.
It also created the Public School Athletic Trainer Pilot Program, which gave the Department of Education power to give grants for public schools to hire athletic trainers.
Click here to read the full act as signed into law by Governor Mike Beebe.