Forest Park High School Receives Sports Safety Award

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Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)

Forest Park High School has been named a Safe Sports School 1st Team by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). Forest Park is the first school in Prince William County to receive this award.

Jessie Shanks, Forest Park Bruins Head athletic trainer and NATA Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee Member, has worked consistently over the years toward increasing the school community’s awareness of critical lifesaving and proactive health endeavors for their students.

As the first school in Prince William County Public Schools to have five AEDs (automated external defibrillators) available, the Bruins lead the way on safety and injury prevention. Shanks cited a clear example of Forest Park High’s strong efforts to protect students’ health and well-being. “We were hosting District Wrestling Championships at Forest Park High. During the finals a student went into cardiac arrest.” Shanks explained that having the AED close by helped save the student’s life. Recommended guidelines encourage using an AED within three to five-minutes of the cardiac incident.

Thousands of student athletes have benefited from Shanks’ attention to detail, ongoing diligence, drilling, and decisive action to ensure students’ health and safety. “We currently have 750 athletes participating in 29 sports at various levels. Treatments and injury evaluations for student athletes have saved parents almost $10,000 in medical bills,” Shanks shared.

Parents of Forest Park High’s students praised Shanks long-standing safety efforts. After suffering a concussion during a soccer game, a parent shared, “My daughter’s concussion issues were mitigated by Shanks’ immediate actions. We are very grateful for her dedication to ensuring our students’ safety and health.”

NATA states that the award recognizes Forest Park High’s efforts and “positions the school as a leader in sports safety and a community concerned with its student athletes and their care.” According to NATA’s website, “Over seven million students (50 percent of the high school population) participate in athletics each year and an estimated two million sports-related injuries occur that result in more than 500,000 physician visits and 30,000 hospitalizations.” NATA’s website also indicates that “athletic trainers are uniquely positioned to not only prevent, diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate injuries, but also to serve in a lead role to manage the health of student athletes. This centralized role is most effective when backed by a process that includes district-wide data, communication and collaboration across school programs and medical teams.”

Forest Park High School’s Safe Sports School 1st Team status is valid for a three-year period.

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