VA Athletic Trainers Association conference brings to light importance of AT’s

VATA conference shines light on the importance of AT's.
Published: Jan. 15, 2023 at 7:53 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Many things came to light after Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on-field nearly two weeks ago.

One of those is the importance of athletic trainers at all levels.

This weekend the Virginia Athletic Trainers Association (VATA) held its annual conference at Hotel Madison in Harrisonburg.

The conference invites members and non-members in for training and educational purposes and shares what’s new in athletic training.

“We are the first line of emergent care with our student-athletes on the field,” Mike Kotelnicki, president-elect for VATA said.

Kotelnicki said that education about the importance of athletic trainers starts at the high school sports level.

“In the state of Virginia, we still have about 30% of the high schools that don’t have a first line of defense for medical conditions that happen on the field, in the weight room, or at practice,” he said.

Kotelnicki said athletic trainers do more than wrap and ice minor injuries. They are state-board certified and require a master’s degree.

“We take care of cardiac conditions, sickle cell conditions, heat exhaustion, all these things that are life-threatening,” he said.

The CPR Damar Hamlin was given by the athletic trainers on the sidelines after his collapse on the field helped save his life, according to experts.

“The tragedy brings the education. A young man is paralyzed on the field, we have a bone sticking out of a leg, all these things and the athletic trainer is the first one there,” Kotelnicki said.

Now that a light has been shined on the importance of having athletic trainers on the sidelines of every sport at every level, VATA leaders say the field is expanding.

“We’ve really tried to broaden the settings in which we are working in,” Lauryn Hunter, public relations chair for the VATA said. “You now see them in the military as well as performing arts so Cirque de Soleil and some of those other companies.”

To learn more about athletic trainers visit VATA’s website.