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Each GCSD high school earns Safe Sports School award

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From the highest levels of professional sports to community youth teams, recently safety has been made a top priority nationwide for those who compete.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Georgetown County School District and Tidelands Health Sports Medicine Institute, local high school student athletes will now be competing in a safer environment.

Georgetown County School District has earned the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Safe Sports School award for each of its high schools ­­­­-- Andrews, Carvers Bay, Georgetown and Waccamaw. The award champions safety and recognizes secondary schools that provide safe environments for student athletes. The award reinforces the importance of providing the best level of care, injury prevention and treatment.

Georgetown County School District is the largest district in the state with all of its high schools earning the Safe Sports School award. Statewide, only 15 high schools have earned the Safe Schools First Team designation, while two others have been recognized as Second Team schools.

“Our district is honored to receive this recognition from NATA, and we remain committed to keeping our student athletes safe during physical education classes, team practices and games so they can accomplish their own goals of great competition, winning records, fair sportsmanship and good health,” said Superintendent Dr. Randy Dozier. “Our goal is to lead our athletics program to the highest safety standards for our players.”

The Athletic Trainers program is managed by the Safety and Risk Management Department, which contracts services through Tidelands Health for the district’s four high school athletic programs.  As part of a review of existing policies and procedures in the summer of 2014, it was determined that revisions were needed, as well as additional policies for the protection of our student athletes. “The Safe Sports School program gave us a great template to use in making the necessary changes,” said Alan Walters, director of Safety and Risk Management.  “Now we have a cold weather policy in addition to our heat and lightning policies, and our concussion policy reflects the latest findings from the NCAA and medical sources.” 

Another important aspect of the program is the requirement for Emergency Action Plans for sporting events.  “We were able to work with our emergency responders and come up with plans for each site where sporting events are held,” Walters said.  “We are proud of the hard work that went into obtaining this accreditation and appreciate the efforts of our trainers and safety staff in keeping our student athletes and spectators safe.”

Chris DeVault, senior athletic trainer at Georgetown High School, said “This is a great achievement for our community. Working together, Georgetown County School District and the Tidelands Health Sports Medicine Institute are committed to creating a safe and healthy environment for student athletes. Through hard work and perseverance, we have completed the necessary steps to help ensure our local student athletes receive the high-quality care they need right here at home."

Other trainers in the district are Christine Keillor, Waccamaw High; Adam Henry, Andrews High; and Jada Vanderlip, Carvers Bay High.

Two physicians from Tidelands Waccamaw Orthopaedics and Spine staff the football games. They are: Dr. William Greer, a board-certified orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon, and Dr. Gavin Vaughn, a board-certified sports medicine physician.

Waccamaw Orthopadedics and Spine also holds free sports injury clinics on Saturday mornings during sports seasons, and they will resume in August. They are staffed by Vaughn, Greer and Shantae Siefert, a certified physician assistant.

Physical activity is very important for our youth, according to NATA president Jim Thornton, MS, ATC, CES. “There has been an increase in competitive sports, which are, unfortunately, not without risk. Brain injury/concussion, cardiac arrest, heat illness, exertional sickling, cervical spine fractures and other injuries and illnesses are potentially life-threatening.” Proper planning with proper equipment and personnel is vital to the safety of student athletes today, he notes.

In order to achieve Safe Sport School status, athletic programs must do the following:

·         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 a venue-specific Emergency Action Plan
·         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