JACKSONVILLE, Fl – Timothy Burroughs-Love is now recovering after his family says he suffered a seizure during a preseason football game last Friday night in Miami.
His godmother said medical staff had to shock his heart twice to resuscitate him, once on the field and then again in the ambulance. His coach and family are thanking the athletic training staff who rushed to his aid and the paramedics who responded for saving the teenager’s life.
While Burroughs-Love undergoes tests to determine why the seemingly healthy 17-year-old collapsed, the medical emergency highlights the importance of having certified athletic trainers on staff during high school practices and games in Florida.
Bob Sefcik, executive director of the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program, said 20% of public high schools in the state still do not have certified athletic trainers on duty. Sefcik has been instrumental in pushing legislators and school districts to add trainers into every high school.
All Duval County public high schools have a certified athletic trainer on campus. In addition to treating and preventing medical emergencies, the athletic trainers also look for signs of heat exhaustion and stroke in student-athletes and carry special equipment to measure excessive heat danger on the field and track during hot summer days.
Sefcik showed us how athletic trainers use a Wet Bulb Globe thermometer, WBGT, to measure the sun’s rays, the humidity and wind speed on any given afternoon. The thermometer’s reading dictates the amount of time high school players spend outside during practice.
“When we’re talking to coaches, we’re making modifications whether it’s the length of practice, how much equipment that they’re wearing all the way to, do we need to go indoors instead of outdoors?” he explained.
According to the Florida High School Athletic Association, FHSAA, when a WBGT reads more than 92.1, no outdoor activities are permitted.
A reading between 82.1 and 87.0, requires three separate, four-minute rest breaks each hour of outdoor activities.
A reading of 87.1 to 90.0 limits outdoor activity to 2 hours, with four separate, four-minute rest breaks each hour of activity. Football players are restricted to helmet, shoulder pads and shorts only.
Certified athletic trainers also have access to cold water tubs, which can be used to immediately cool down an athlete experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke. The large metal tubs can hold several bags of ice and are filled with water.
Sefcik said keeping student-athletes safe during days of extreme heat should be a team effort, calling on parents to do their part before and after school.
“Making sure they are providing plenty of hydration sending their kids off and when they get home, rehydrating them because they are losing a lot of water and perspiration out on the field,” said Sefcik.
Parents should also check with their child’s school to make sure there is an AED, Automated External Defibrillator, on campus and that every coach knows where it is located and has a key to access any room where it might be stored.
An AED was used to restart 17-year-old Burroughs-Love’s heart on the field, saving his life.