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Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018: Does your school have an athletic trainer? Why not?

   Leading off today: There was a brief mention at last week's NYSPHSAA Executive Committee meeting that the topic of athletic training services was back on the radar at the state level.

   If I recall correctly, it was most recently mentioned at the Central Committee meeting in July 2016 as part of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's long-range strategic plan.

   The organization's Safety Committee will hear a presentation this spring from a sub-committee, and the report will include the benefits of athletic training services and obstacles that schools face in providing those services.

The Safety Committee is expected to offer a recommendation at the May meeting of the Executive Committee.

   In a matter of hours yesterday, I saw two stories highlighting some of the most extreme and valuable work that athletic trainers do. These are people who can literally save lives.

   Quick thinking at Stepinac: Maxwell Anderson was watching the second half of the freshman game in the Archbishop Stepinac gym when a Mount St. Michael player crashed to the floor.

   "I could see him rolling on the ground, holding the back of his head, said Anderson, Stepinac's athletic trainer. "I rolled him over and he was responsive and talking."

   The player's eyes closed and he stopped breathing within moments. As reported by Kevin Devaney Jr., the gym went silent as Anderson began administering CPR. Within moments, the player was revived.

   EMTs arrived soon afterward and the player was transported to a hospital. Mount St. Michael varsity coach Tom Fraher said the player was stabilized in the ambulance and is expected to make a full recovery.

   "When you're in the moment, your only concern is to get him breathing again. You have to stay calm," Anderson said.


   Said Stepinac varsity coach Pat Massaroni: "He is worth every single penny we pay him. Every school is crazy if they don't have an athletic trainer for their events. Tonight you saw why."

   Following up on recent scare: Hana Gross is an athletic trainer at Irvington, but she was covering a colleague's assignment Dec. 27 at Pelham High when Blind Brook boys basketball player Jordan Schoen collapsed early in a noon game.

   As reported by The Journal News, Schoen flatlined before Gross, Pelham detective John Hynes, police officer Michael Sheehy and an unidentified doctor began working on him.

   "You almost turn into a machine and you just do it," Gross said. "It was literally a perfect storm. Especially being my first time 'live,' to have all that support, you couldn't ask for a better situation."

   Schoen was stabilized at a local hospital and later transferred to Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx. A specialist there performed a two-and-a-half-hour procedure to place a defibrillator and pacemaker in Schoen's heart.

   "CPR being delivered is what prevented this athletes death," said Yorktown athletic trainer Dave Byrnes, president of the Section 1 Athletic Trainers' Society. "I would bet money that if there were not professional rescuers on scene, that he would not have lived."

   Gross said the reality of saving a life hasn't hit her. But it's also true that these incidents are rare enough that most civilians don't yet understand the most valuable aspect of having an athletic trainer on site.

   "I think it's important for schools to know that we're not just taping ankles, we're not slapping ice on kids -- it's bigger than that," she said. "To have the proper medical coverage is really important."

   Said Byrnes: "You wouldn't drop your kids off at a pool without a lifeguard, but yet every day millions of parents drop their kids off at a practice or a game and there's no athletic trainer there."

   More later: I'm bogged down with work at my "real" jobs early Saturday, but I'll hopefully be back with a second blog tonight to recap some highlights from Friday's action around the state.

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