Source: National Athletic Trainers' Association

DALLAS and SAN DIEGO, March 7, 2012-The National Athletic Trainers' Association announced today its official support of Advocates for Injured Athletes (A4IA) and its "Athletes Saving Athletes™" program that provides high school students with training and skills to recognize signs and symptoms of life-threatening injuries. The goal of the program is to reduce the risk and incidence of injury and death among student athletes.

March is National Athletic Training Month with the theme "Athletic Trainers Save Lives."

Advocates for Injured Athletes also announced today two new San Diego-area schools that will adopt the ASA program. Its next two schedule dates are Thursday, March 8 at Torrey Pines High School and Thursday, March 22 at Point Loma High School. Santa Fe Christian was the inaugural site of the program launch in January and additional schools in San Diego County have already committed. To see the ASA program in action please view: http://youtu.be/rX0GgOK1erQ.

"Every year, high school athletes suffer 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations," said Beth Mallon, executive director of Advocates for Injured Athletes. "While an estimated 42 percent of U.S. high schools have access to an athletic trainer, these health care professionals cannot be present at all practices and competitions of every school sport, often leaving student athletes vulnerable in the event of a serious injury. We have designed this program as a new line of defense on high school playing fields, equipping student athletes with basic knowledge and skills that empower them to play a role in reducing the risk of life-threatening situations among their teammates and friends."

"The National Athletic Trainers' Association is delighted to partner with Athletes Saving Athletes to promote the important message of youth sports safety at the high school level," says NATA President Marjorie J. Albohm, MS, ATC. "With the extra eyes and ears of students, the athletic training profession thinks this program has potential to be offered in schools around the country. With about 50 percent of high school students participating in sports activities, training student athletes to recognize an emergency and call for help may help save lives and reduce the potential of catastrophic injuries. Our goal is to ensure that youth athletes have access to athletic training services, which is the standard of medical care in almost half the public secondary schools in the U.S."

A4IA's team of certified athletic trainers will instruct 50 selected student athlete leaders from each high school using a curriculum developed by A4IA's panel of medical experts. A4IA's ultimate goal is to take the program to high schools across the nation, leveraging student empowerment to help improve the culture of safety in youth sports. A4IA-trained student athletes like athletic training student aides, are trained first to call the athletic trainer on site or 911 if the school does not employ an athletic trainer. Athletic training student aides typically are enrolled in the school's sports medicine classes. They are not allowed to act independently or make return to play decisions.

The daylong training program includes:

§ Training in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator)

§ How and who to call for help

§ Preparation in what may be required of first responders in an emergency

§ Educational videos about three student athletes who survived near-death experiences involving head/neck injury, sudden cardiac arrest and heat stroke and provided the inspiration for the ASA program

§ Instruction on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of life-threatening injuries and medical conditions, including concussion, head and neck injuries, heat illness, sudden cardiac arrest, diabetes, and asthma

Students who complete the program are certified by the American Red Cross in CPR and AED and pledge to share their new knowledge and skills with current and future teammates.

In addition to NATA's national support, A41A has also partnered with the San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross, which is providing grant funds for the CPR/AED training portion of the program for the current 10-school program.

Mallon and her son Tommy created A4IA after Tommy suffered a catastrophic injury in the final lacrosse game of his senior year at Santa Fe Christian High School in 2009. He suffered a concussion, his neck was fractured (C1) and one of his vertebral arteries had been dissected. An athletic trainer on his school's medical staff helped to save his life. After nine grueling months of rehabilitation he was able to return to a good quality of life though cannot play sports again. The experience inspired Beth and Tommy, who is now a sophomore at the University of San Diego, to establish the program with a mission of promoting sports safety through education.

About Advocates for Injured Athletes Advocates for Injured Athletes (A4IA) is a nonprofit, nationwide advocacy organization dedicated to promoting sports safety and to providing essential support, education, and resources to help keep student athletes safe. A4IA works with a team of athletic trainers and medical professionals to provide advocacy, education and resources to promote sports safety. In addition A4IA hope to provide financial assistance to support the need for certified athletic trainers at every high school in the country. For more information, please visit www.injuredathletes.org.

About NATA National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) - Health Care for Life & Sport Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 35,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org.

Emily Attwood is Managing Editor of Athletic Business.