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September 20, 2019


ThedaCare Licensed Athletic Trainers Serve Student Athletes

Photo 1 Caption: Berlin High School earns Safe Sports School awards from the National Athletic Trainers Association.

Photo 2 Caption: Joe Brandl, Berlin High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director; Melissa Johnston, Licensed Athletic Trainer for the Berlin School District; Dr. David Budde, ThedaCare Physicians-Berlin Eastridge; Dr. Carl Cartwright, Superintendent of Berlin Area School District; Dr. Craig Batley, ThedaCare Physicians-Berlin Eastridge/BASD School Board Member

September 20, 2019


ThedaCare Licensed Athletic Trainers Serve Student Athletes

BERLIN, Wis. – Six schools in Northeast and Central Wisconsin have earned Safe Sports School awards from the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). Those schools include middle and high schools in Berlin, Green Lake, Menasha, Princeton, Waupaca and Wautoma. The award is given for a three-year period.

ThedaCare provides Licensed Athletic Trainers (LAT) at more than a dozen schools in Northeast and Central Wisconsin, including the six which earned the Safe Sports School award. The LAT program saves families time and money, offering services on-site, rather than going to another location for rehabilitation.

“It is pretty amazing that we have so many schools in our area that have earned the Safe Sports School award,” said Melissa Johnston, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, in the Berlin School District, which has now received the award twice. “Our team of ThedaCare LATs has accepted the challenge to fulfill the Safe Sports School criteria so our schools can be recognized nationally. Not every school can earn it.”

The Safe Sports School recognition was an extensive process. To earn Safe Sports School recognition from NATA, the school must:

  • Create a positive athletic health care administrative system.
  • Provide or coordinate pre-participation physical examinations.
  • Promote safe and appropriate practice and competition facilities.
  • Plan for selection, fit function and proper maintenance of athletic equipment.
  • Provide a permanent, appropriately equipped area to evaluate and treat injured athletes.
  • Develop injury and illness prevention strategies, including protocols for environmental conditions.
  • Provide or facilitate injury intervention.
  • Create and rehearse venue-specific Emergency Action Plans.
  • Provide or facilitate psychosocial consultation and nutritional counseling/education.
  • Be sure athletes and parents are educated of the potential benefits and risks in sports as well as their responsibilities.

The NATA award reinforces the importance of providing the best level of care, injury prevention and treatment for student athletes.

“Our team of LATs has made the extra effort to ensure our schools are recognized for their commitment to the safety of their students,” said Johnston. “By being in the schools, families have the peace of mind to know that someone is there to help keep their students safe during sport participation, and coaches appreciate that LATs are present to help make important care decisions.”

The LATs also work directly with the students to provide rehabilitation treatment and physical therapy to help them recover from an injury and get back to playing their sport.

“That’s a great benefit for the student and their parents,” Johnston said. “It eliminates the need for the student to leave school to get therapy and parents don’t have to leave work to transport them. Plus it provides a great continuity of care from the time of the injury through to the athlete’s return to the playing field.”

In addition to their work with students, the LATs do community outreach to work with local fire departments and EMS teams to develop emergency action plans.

“It’s the small things that can make all of the difference. For example, we know who will open the gate to let the ambulance onto the field, who will direct traffic and more, at each of the locations where our teams play,” said Johnston. “That helps all of us to work together to provide the best care for the students.”

The LATs ensure that all coaches are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the use of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) and basic first aid practices so they can render aid if a LAT is not present at practices. For varsity games and other competitions, the LATs establish an action plan with coaches, athletic directors and referees for responding to any catastrophic situation.

“We feel honored to play a role in the ThedaCare mission of improving the health of the communities we serve,” said Johnston. “An important piece of that community is at the middle and high school level and we are proud to support our students and athletes.”

Along with the application for the Safe Sport School, Johnston applied for a grant through the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers’ Association to pay for the application fee, which was also awarded.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

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