- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - When a football player at Central High School in Little Rock began to overheat at practice earlier this summer, a certified sports medicine trainer from Arkansas Children’s Hospital was on the field to help him into an ice bath immediately.

A trainer has been stationed at each of the Little Rock School District’s five high schools since July 1 as part of a new partnership between the hospital and the school district. The details of the partnership were announced at news a conference Wednesday at Hall High School.

Jack Bryant, a 17-year-old kicker for Central High School, said the trainer acted fast when his teammate began to overheat.

“It was quickly resolved; he was able to walk off the field,” Bryant said. “They’re making sure we watch out if we get too hot, getting us in the ice bath and making sure we have plenty of water.”

Hospital and school district administrators said Wednesday that having trainers on the field for immediate treatment is invaluable, but having those trainers in the field houses and in school before games will also offer a great benefit. David Berry, the senior vice president and chief operating officer for Arkansas Children’s Hospital, said the partnership fulfills the hospital’s motto of “making them better today and healthier tomorrow.”

“By having ACH trainers on the football field and other places, student athletes will have instant access to excellent medical services that aim to not only treat injuries sustained on the field, but also to provide education to teams to help injuries from ever occurring,” he said.

Little Rock School District Athletic Director John Daniels said the partnership took two years to develop. He said the trainers will come to the schools about lunchtime and stay through the end of games or practices. He said for the fall they’ll be working with the football teams, but will be available for all of the other sports as needed.

The hospital’s Orthopedic Surgeon, Brant Sachleben, choked up as he told those gathered for the announcement how much the student athletes needed and deserved to have the care of the trainers.

“I witnessed firsthand how they can save lives,” he said, noting a girl who had suffered from heat stroke at a soccer tournament. One of the hospital’s trainers put her in an ice bath quickly, which Sachleben said saved her life.

“She spent 10 minutes in a pool of icy water and has no recollection of it because she was having mental status changes. And neither her nor her parents will ever know how close she was to having a bad outcome,” he said.

Joey Walters, deputy executive director of the Arkansas Activities Association, said the central Arkansas schools are lucky to have access to the hospital’s trainers. He said the hospital’s staff helps with regular trainings for coaches and volunteers who are required by the association to be trained to deal with concussions, heat issues and communicable diseases.

Walters said the association is applying for a grant to use telemedicine to provide access to the trainers in more rural areas of the state.

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