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EDINBURG — When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went down with cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game on Jan. 2, all eyes were on the Bills’ athletic trainers.
Their swift response ended up being the difference between life or death for Hamlin, prompting local athletic trainers to ask themselves if they’d be ready in a similar situation.
The Valley Athletic Trainers Association, in partnership with DHR Health, are doing their part to make sure the Rio Grande Valley’s athletic trainers and medical personnel are trained for any situation, hosting the Texas Emergency Athletic Management Seminar on Friday at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.
“Unfortunately, stuff like this has happened in the Rio Grande Valley,” La Joya Juarez-Lincoln athletic trainer and VATA President Israel Montano III said. “In the 2000s we had a kid who suffered a spinal injury and ended up wheelchair-bound, and then as recent as last year we had a kid in the RGV who suffered a traumatic brain injury and was hospitalized. Injuries are down here, too. Our athletics are no different than anywhere else, so we needed to make sure our athletic trainers, physicians and EMTs are prepared for any situation.”
The one-day seminar featured speakers from across the U.S., including Dr. Mike Kordecki and Dr. Michael Szymanski, both renowned lecturers in their fields.
Other presenters included various DHR Health physicians and Texas A&M Kingsville head football coach Mike Salinas.
“We’re bringing doctors and experts from throughout the nation in their field,” Montano said. “These are the experts who have written books that we read in school and use for training. We brought those people down. That page in the book that lists all the contributors, we brought those people down.
“These are people that are experts and we brought down to the RGV because we want to learn from the top experts in the field.”
Presentations throughout the day varied from speakers talking about football helmet safety, to prehospital equipment removal.
Attendees also had the chance to participate in hands-on training and skill labs.
“It is really hard having to travel to the upper part of the state or even out of state to get the proper training,” La Joya Palmview athletic trainer Edwin Gomez said. “It is very beneficial to get TEAMS going down here in the RGV.
“Seminars like this help up improve our skills and get knowledge from experts.”