An athletic trainer in Hillsborough County, Fla., where earlier this summer a rising freshman football player died after collapsing on the field during a conditioning workout, is calling for full-time athletic trainers in all county high schools.
According to Bay News 9, Chris Fuhrman was so moved by the June 11 death of 14-year-old Hezekiah Walters that he started the petition.
“It broke my heart,” he told Bay News 9. “I really felt sick to my stomach.”
What exactly caused Walters’ death is still under investigation, and the medical examiner has not yet released a cause of death. A preliminary investigative summary released by the medical examiner in the wake of the incident revealed that Walters’ body temperature when he arrived at the emergency room was 102 degrees, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The district hasn’t said whether there was an athletic trainer present during the conditioning session where Walters collapsed.
Fuhrman said that in his work as an athletic trainer, he’s constantly surveying the field looking for warning signs of serious conditions like heat stroke.
“If a kid may be stumbling or a kid may be starting to throw up, these are things we notice immediately,” he said.
Fuhrman added that a majority of injuries take place during practices or conditioning sessions, so it’s important at least as important to have athletic trainers present during those sessions as it is during games.
Fuhrman’s hope is that the petition could help save a life in the future.
“Even if there’s one life that’s saved over the course of 20, 30, 40 years, I’d say that’s worth every penny,” he said. “Just one life.”