High school athletes train to spot injuries

Posted at 7:27 PM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 22:27:21-04

A new program is putting local student athletes in charge of their health. 

UC San Diego Health has teamed up with Advocates for Injured Athletes to alleviate San Diego parents’ fears when their children play high school sports. 

In an emergency, every minute counts. At least one third of San Diego high schools do not have a certified athletic trainer on staff, leaving student athletes vulnerable. 

The two organizations started the program “Athletes for Athletes” to meet that need. They're training student athletes at St. Augustine High in San Diego to recognize the signs and symptoms of sports related injuries.

“For guys and girls even, we're taught if you're a football player, a big gruff guy, you got to be tough,” said St. Augustine senior Martin Quiroga.

He and other student athletes are being empowered to change that mentality.

"If we lose an athlete that's dear to us, it affects us all. That's why what we're doing here is important,” said Quiroga. 

Students learned how to recognize injuries related to concussions, heat stroke and sudden cardiac arrest. 

"Hiding signs and symptoms and going back to play too soon can lead to a potentially life threatening condition,” said Advocates for Injured Athletes co-founder Beth Mallon.

But 10News asked in addition to empowering student athletes, does this put too much pressure on students?  Program organizers say they're not trying to turn them into medical professionals. It's about teaching kids signs and symptoms and the importance of getting help.

"We never know when this information will be used by these athletes,” said UC San Diego Health’s Robyn Stuhr. “But clearly there's going to be a day or a moment when they can step up and make a difference for a teammate, a loved one or even a stranger on the street.”

Quiroga added: "It's good to be strong, to have fortitude, but when it comes to your health, sometimes you have to suck up your pride and actually realize there's something wrong with me."

The organization, Advocates for Injured Athletes, launched in 2012. More than 5,000 athletes across the country have gone through the program. The co-founder says at least five athletes have saved other athletes based on the knowledge they learned.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half a million kids are treated in the emergency room for injuries, which include concussions.