AEDs, once not required, now a standard at schools. But what about athletic trainers?

Cincinnati Local 12 WKRC

by Chris Renkel & Stephanie Kuzydym, WKRC

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The Sunday afternoon in mid-May was one of Moeller High School lacrosse team’s last home games. Athletic trainer Craig Lindsey remembers everything about that day three years ago.

“It was another day, like any other game," he said. “I was into the game and I was watching my guys and helping them when they came off the field. “Then we had the Centerville kid that got hit in the chest with a lacrosse ball." 

Grant Mays, a senior for Centerville, was just weeks away from graduating.

“He blocked the shot, scooped up the ball, probably ran 50 yards down the field,” Lindsey said. “As he is crossing midfield, you can start to see his legs are getting weak. His legs are getting kind of wobbly, and the next thing you know, he goes down.”

Lindsey ran onto the field with a student athletic trainer from the University of Cincinnati. He ran through his ABCs: airway, breathing, circulation.

“He appeared to be in a seizure-like state,” Lindsey said. “He was very clenched, and he was nonresponsive to any cues.”

So he did what he never had done in his 22 years as an athletic trainer, but practiced many times.

“That is the first time I’ve ever called for an AED,” he said. “You always have it with you. You always have it by your side.”

After one charge, Mays began breathing on his own.

“They always say, ‘Train for and expect the unexpected.’ But honestly, it never -- 15, 20 years into my practice, I never knew or thought it would happen to me or be presented where I had to take action,” Lindsey said.

Thanks to Lindsey’s quick actions, Mays celebrated his 21st birthday last summer.

Just like AEDs can save lives, experts say so can athletic trainers. Schools are not required to have an athletic trainer. However, coaches are required to have a permit for training in things like concussions and CPR.

OHSAA Commissioner Jerry Snodgrass said there are no requirements to have an athletic trainer present at regular-season events.

“We want our kids to be safe,” Snodgrass said. “We want everything to be safe, so most schools will make that conscious effort, but there can be no mandate that we have a trainer at a contest.”

The OHSAA says it doesn’t have the ability to force schools to add something that would cost the schools money: an unfunded mandate. It would take a government entity like state legislators or the Ohio DOE.

It wasn’t long ago that AEDs were not required by schools. But an Ohio law passed in 2004 helped shed light on their importance.

The law says a school “may require the placement of an automated external defibrillator (AED)” and that “all persons employed by a school district shall receive training in the use of an AED”

Snodgrass said, “I think it’s a standard of prevention. I think that’s necessary.”

Mike Gordon is the president of the Greater Cincinnati Athletic Trainers Association.

“AEDs are now a standard of care that if an athletic trainer or a medical site doesn’t have an AED, there’s a significant liability there,” Gordon said. “Shouldn’t athletic trainers also be the standard of care? Shouldn’t athletic trainers, having one on site or on a campus or at a sporting event, shouldn’t that be a standard of care? I believe so.”

So wouldn’t the OHSAA say a standard of prevention would also be an athletic trainer?

Snodgrass said, “It would be hard to. It would be hard to say anything different than that. I would agree.”