BELTSVILLE, Md. (DC News Now) — The DMV is not immune to a nationwide shortage of athletic trainers at high schools – none are found at Prince George’s County public high schools.
The county is among the estimated 25% of campuses around Maryland, public and private, without an athletic trainer. In Virginia, the number is 23%, while 44% of all high schools around the District have no athletic trainers.
The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA,) estimates athletic trainers are absent from roughly 33% of the country’s high schools.
“Our philosophy is if you’re going to have athletics, you should have an athletic trainer,” said Kathy Dieringer, NATA’s president.
The lack of athletic trainers in the county concerns her.
“The health and safety of those student-athletes, if you’re prioritizing that, then you would have at least one athletic trainer on your campus,” Dieringer said.
Students at schools with full-time athletic trainers are less prone to injury and risk compared to schools without them, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Maryland’s Peter Laake blocked a shot off his chest during a lacrosse match between his Loyola-Blakefield and McDonough High Schools on April 16, 2021. He suffered sudden cardiac arrest, and collapsed.
Athletic trainers assigned to the game and doctors who were in the stands managed to restore Laake’s heartbeat and save his life. Athletic trainers also helped with Laake’s rehabilitation.
Prince George’s County Schools rely on Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to handle game-related injuries. Critics point out that those people only treat injuries, not the rehabilitation after a student-athlete is hurt. Plus, EMTs have to respond to any medical emergency at the stadium.
“I’m not really too concerned because myself, I always make sure that my son is trained outside of the organization that he’s with,” said Damara Winslow, whose son plays at Suitland High School.
The Prince George’s County School District did not respond to requests to comment on this story.
Meanwhile, a full-time athletic trainer is now at all 25 Montgomery County Public High Schools. The school district announced it in August as part of the start of an enhanced sports medicine program partnership with MedStar Health.