Program Teaches Student Athletes Life-Saving Skills

'Athletes Saving Athletes' Teaches Athletes CPR, Life-Saving Medical Techniques

A Solana Beach family launched a program this month to teach student athletes life-saving skills after their athlete son was injured on the playing field.

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"The athletes are the people who are going to be there first so we want them to be educated," said Tommy Mallon, who knows too well the importance of that knowledge.

In May 2009, Mallon was a senior at Santa Fe Christian High School. During a lacrosse game, Mallon was hit and sent to the ground.

Riki Kirchhoff, a certified athletic trainer, was working that game and figured out from Mallon's symptoms that he should not move.

"I wanted to get up," said Mallon. "I didn't think it was that bad and [Kirchhoff] made me stay down."

Mallon's neck was broken in three places.

"I was holding his head in my hands, you know, and ultimately we made the right decision," said Kirchhoff.

A halo brace, graduation and rehab followed for Mallon. However, it was Kirchhoff's actions that inspired Mallon and his mother.

"[A] debt of gratitude, forever… The only reason Tommy is alive is because there was someone who was educated on the sidelines," said Mallon's mother.

They started the Athletes Saving Athletes program, which teaches student athletes how to read symptoms and become certified in CPR.

"I've always wanted to get CPR certified because it's something… you never know what could happen," said student athlete Grant Lucier.

Santa Fe Christian High School is the first of 10 county high schools to participate. The goal is to take the program nationwide.

A recent study showed more than 1 million high school sports-related injuries occur every year. Mallon's story hits the point home.

"Our ultimate goal… if we can save one life then all of this is worth it," said Kirchhoff.

Mallon cannot play contact sports anymore. He is now a political science and business major at the University of San Diego and is and doing fine.

For more information on the Athletes Saving Athletes program, visit InjuredAthletes.org.

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