Iron County Superintendent Shannon Dulaney said that after consulting with other districts with similar programs, she learned that they had successfully achieved their goals by inviting potential collaborators to submit proposals.
“I took their advice,” she said. “And contacted those who had already contacted me and just let them know…”
Dulaney said the request for proposals was still in the drafting process; but that once it was finished, they would publish it to the district website, http://irondistrict.org. She said interested parties could upload their proposals for two weeks, and then the board will review all of them for consideration.
“At the end of that timeline for the request,” she said. “We will – as a board, and as a district – take a look at the sealed proposals, and invite whomever we feel qualifies to provide those services to come in.
“We will see their presentations then,” she added.
Dulaney said the concept for this program is simple. She said that the district is looking to create a program that will provide an athletic trainer in each of the three district high schools: Cedar High School, Canyon View High School and Parowan High School.
The trainer would work closely with coaches and athletes to maintain the best medical care needed during injuries on the field, Dulaney said. They can assess injuries, determine a course of treatment, make calls as to whether an injury is too bad to allow an athlete to continue in a game, and even prescribe a physical therapy regimen if needed she said.
Dulaney said the Iron County School District is not reinventing the wheel with this idea; both Logan and Washington Counties have been successfully using athletic trainers on the field for years.
Washington County Superintendent Larry Bergeson said the sports medicine program has been tremendously successful in the six Washington County schools that utilize the programs.
Bergeson said their program is currently coordinated through Intermountain Healthcare, who provides the schools with an athletic trainer to work at each high school in collaboration with the school’s athletic directors, coaches and student athletes.
“For years the people who have provided treatment are coaches,” he said. “We take taping class, we take athletic injury classes, but we are not on the caliber – at all, or even close – to these trainers.”
He said it has been an asset to their sports programs, because coaches are not medical professionals who have the knowledge, experience and training to diagnose and treat injuries that occur on the field. He said they are especially important when it comes to accurately diagnosing concussions, and if it is safe for an athlete to get back in the game, or if they need to sit it out.
“We remove the responsibility from our coaches who, for two reasons aren’t the best people to be making that decision,” he said. “Number one, a coach would like to keep them in the game if he can, because he wants to win, and there’s a lot of emotion wrapped up in that.
“And then two, there are some parents who try to say ‘cowboy up’ and ‘get him back in the game’, so this eliminates the pressure from the coaches shoulders,” he added.
Dixie High School Principal Sharla Campbell said she recalls a recent incident at a basketball game where the student came down and smacked his head hard. She said it was terrible to watch, and she was very concerned for the young man.
“He went right to the floor and struck his head,” she said. “My thinking was, ‘this could change this kid’s life; this could be the kind of injury that has an effect forever.’”
She said that while watching Dixie High’s athletic trainer Mike Tolmann spring into action, she immediately knew this young man was getting good care. She said they called EMT’s to transport him to the hospital, but Tolmann was right there making sure they followed every safety procedure to the “T”.
Intermountain Healthcare Rehab Manager over Satellite Clinics and Sports Medicine Rhett Farrer said it took many years of ear bending to help create the successful program that has flourished in Washington County schools. He said he began planting seeds on both sides of the fence between the school district and Intermountain years before the idea took root.
Farrer said that during the years he spent as a volunteer experience persuaded him to believe it would be in the best interest of student athletes to have an athletic trainer available to them at all times. Not only would a sports medicine program help to treat immediate injuries, he said trainers help students coordinate with family doctors and other medical professionals to provide a thorough treatment program.
“So there is some follow through we document the injuries and we track them,” he said. “Utah law now requires that all concussions are documented and there is a protocol that is followed.”
For these reasons and more, Dulaney said she believed that adding an athletic trainer program to the Iron County School Districts payroll would be worth every penny allocated.
She said all board meetings are open to the public, and that community members are welcome to contact her directly with any questions or concerns they may have.
Dulaney, and the Iron County School District can be reached online at http://irondistrict.org, or by calling (435) 586-2804.