Bryan County athletic programs will be without medical trainers this school year. Bryan County High School lost theirs last year, and Richmond Hill High School will not have one for the coming year.
School Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer said Memorial Hospital previously offered the services of medical trainers to both schools at no cost but, due to financial cutbacks within the hospital, this free service is no longer being offered.
"Board money can not be spent for trainers, so funds would have to be come from school athletic funds in order to continue having trainers," Brewer said. "And those funds are limited with all the different sports each school has. Dr. (RHHS Principal Charles) Spann got an estimate of $30,000 a year for this service, and they do not have that amount available."
"We’re trying to work toward a solution, but we don’t have enough funding," BCHS Athletic Administrator Ron Lewis said. "We need some help from the state because we can’t do it alone on the local level."
Lewis said one possible solution for funding would be if the state recognized trainers as educators.
Brewer said local ambulances and EMTs are slated to be on hand for upcoming sporting events and all coaches are currently receiving some medical training.
Bryan County Emergency Services Director Jim Anderson said state law requires them to supply EMTs and an ambulance during football games and his agency is willing to supply this service for other sports as well.
BCHS Booster President and incoming Board of Education member Dennis Seger said he will push for medical trainers to be reinstated into Bryan County schools.
Seger pointed out how other schools have found a way to fund trainers, and Bryan County should be no different.
"It’s extremely important for every school to have a trainer on hand," Seger said. "All the schools we play have one. We may not have one next year, but I’m going to do my best to get them back. I can’t think of a more important issue than the safety of our children."
RHHS football booster club vice president Steve Wyatt, who has a son on the football team, said he is concerned about not having a medical trainer on hand for the upcoming season.
"This is going to hinder the sports programs on both ends of the county," Wyatt said. "The coaches are now responsible for some medical treatment such as wrapping fingers and hands, so that everything will halt now if a kid gets hurt. Here the program is trying to make leaps and bounds as they try to improve, and this comes along. This could only hurt the program."
Wyatt pointed out that Memorial pulled trainers from Chatham County as well, but "they jumped on it and found a way at the administrative level and in the budget to allow it to continue. You would think the board could find a way to keep the trainers."
"The first time there is one major injury, the school is going to have a serious issue at hand," Wyatt continued. "It’s worth the tax payers’ dollars to solve this problem."
RHHS baseball coach Mitchell Curry said the new medical responsibilities could spell out potential trouble for Bryan County coaches.
"In today’s litigious society, this exposes us to certain liability that we have not had in the past," Curry said. "We’re not medically trained enough to assess if someone has a major or minor injury. I’ll add that I’m not really upset or concerned about losing a medical trainer for baseball because the trainer last year was not accessible to me. Football is the main focus for this issue."