Could Using an AED in Fennvile Helped?

This blog is mainly about concussions however, athletic training is a very strong undercurrent here.  Mike Hopper takes a look at a column surrounding the tragedy in Fennville, MI, and how an athletic trainer could have been utilized.

I’m sure anybody in the athletics world has heard of the unfortunate tragedy that took place last Thursday night.  For those who don’t know, Wes Leonard, a 16 year-old basketball player from Michigan, died after scoring the winning basket that sealed his team’s 20-0 perfect regular season.  Leonard collapsed amid the celebration that ensued after the game and died a couple of hours later.

Chilling reports have come from this small town of Fennville that are sending up red flags across the country.  There are mixed reports as to if any care was given immediately following the collapse, but it appears very little was given until paramedics arrived.

In John Doherty’s column on Monday, the author goes to another problem with this whole incident.  CPR or lack of CPR has been brought up numerous times and rightfully so.  But what has remained hush-hush is the lack of AED and the lack of proper medical services provided onsite that night.

Most high schools in Michigan (and Indiana and Illinois) have an AED, including Leonard’s Fennville High School.  It was actually in the gym.  Perhaps, that fact hasn’t received much play, though, because the unit apparently didn’t get much use.

In the state of Illinois, an AED is required to be available for any fitness facility—indoors or out.  This includes all schools and many of these schools must keep multiple AEDs spread throughout their campuses.  This great that they are required and these machines are fantastic because they are easy to use.  But if an AED just sits there, it does not do any good.

That probably would not have been the case if Fennville High School had an ATC (certified athletic trainer) but, according to my contacts in the Michigan Athletic Trainers’ Association, they do not.  Not surprising, since only 24 percent of Michigan high schools do compared to 46 percent and 43 percent in Indiana and Illinois, respectively.

I’d like to know where these numbers are coming from.  Here in the southern part of the state, I think saying 43% of Illinois schools have an athletic trainer is a bit of a stretch.  Maybe so, and likely more athletic trainers are concentrated in the Chicago area rather than down here which could skew the numbers in my eyes.

Just remember, Every athlete deserves an Athletic Trainer.

3 thoughts on “Could Using an AED in Fennvile Helped?

  1. Paul LaDuke, ATC March 10, 2011 / 13:02

    According to my research, 85% of PIAA (Pennsylvania’s HS) member schools provide access to an athletic trainer!

    • John Doherty, MS, PT, ATC October 8, 2011 / 22:07

      My numbers regarding athletic training coverage in each state came from the NATA. Suburban Chicago public schools are very-well covered as are the Catholic High Schools in and out of the city. Coverage in public schools in the City of Chicago is very poor.

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