Baltimore - Most athletic trainers have a favorite story they tell about their job. Many are about lives and mobility saved; others are simply memories of long-delayed thank-yous from students they treated or inspired.
Here is a sampling of stories drawn from interviews with dozens of athletic trainers.
"It was during an indoor football practice on the basketball court, and this player went up to deflect a pass and ran head-on into the padding behind the basket. We were able to keep him immobile, get him on a backboard and to a hospital. It turned out he had a C-5 spinal break. He had to wear a (neck) brace for three months, but he was able to come back and play basketball after his rehab, although football was out. But he could have been paralyzed."
-- Brett Gustman, Fairfax High School, Fairfax, Va.
"A player came into the training room one day last spring and said another football player is having an asthma attack. As soon as I got there, I realized this wasn't an asthma attack. He was not breathing and had no pulse. The training just kicked in, all my focus was on chest compressions and rescue breaths. One of our other trainers was next to me with an AED (automated external defibrillator) within a minute or two. We hooked him up and the machine analyzed and advised a shock and we administered it, then continued CPR a couple more minutes. I rechecked for a pulse and he did have a pulse and the paramedics took over from there. I went back later and read over our emergency plan and we had followed it exactly."
-- Chris Shaddock, Glenda Dawson High School, Pearland, Texas, who reports that the 17-year-old athlete, fitted with a defibrillator, may be able to return to the football field as a kicker this fall.
"I just get excited when I see an athlete I worked with perform better or continue to perform. It's different from doctors -- I see them when they're injured and I see them when they're better. I get a lot of satisfaction from that."
-- Cindy Clivio, King Kamehameha High School, Honolulu
"The kids that come back and say 'Thank you for what you did for me' 10, 15, 25 years ago. I saw one recently who had become an athletic trainer and told me how much he appreciated all I'd done to encourage him. That got to me a little bit."
-- Brian Robinson, Glenbrook South High School, Glenview, Ill.
"A young man collapsed on the football field some years ago. When I got to him, he had hardly any vital signs. He was suffering from heat illness. We called 911 and the coaches helped me get him into a tank of cool water. Almost as soon as we dipped him in, his vital signs started coming back up. He spent time in ICU, but he was able to come back after a few weeks. At graduation, he came up to me and gave me a hug and told me he owed his life to me."
-- Tanya Dargusch, Washington Township High School, Sewell, N.J.
"One kid wrote to me and told me 'I didn't tell you at the time how much I appreciated all you did for me, but because you did, I'm able to play with my own kids now.' He was a student 17 years ago."
-- Mike Carroll, Stephenville High School, Stephenville, Texas
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