Templeton High School AT’s Life Saving Action
Shelby LaMendola ATC, has worked for San Luis Sports Therapy as the outreach athletic trainer for Templeton High School since 2008. She has always taken the prevention/preparation domain very seriously, as well as educating athletes, coaches and parents about concussion recognition and management.
On September 18, when Templeton High School Football star Isaac Lindsey removed himself from the field, one of the coaches recognized Isaac’s distress as a possible head injury, and immediately helped him over to Shelby. I believe that her efforts to educate coaches on concussion recognition played a role in that coach, with that athlete, on that night, to make sure Isaac saw the AT right away. This is the first stepping stone in saving Isaac’s life.
Isaac communicated with Shelby as best as he could, giving her enough information for her to know the situation was critical. Because Shelby takes the time to really get to know her athletes, they trust her, and she can quickly recognize when something is wrong. This was the case with Isaac, and was the second stepping stone.
The local EMS- fire and ambulance- attend THS football games, both as medical support and also community support for their small town team. As part of the established EAP, Shelby has fostered familiarity and solid professional relationships with EMS personnel; they know her role, have assisted her before, and understand her capabilities and skill level. Therefore, when she determined the need for immediate transport to a trauma center, there was no hesitation, conversation or conflict. The same was true with the team physician who was also present, as he has worked with Shelby for almost 8 years. This rapport and quick action saved precious minutes, and was the third step in saving Isaac.
Once Isaac was on his way to the hospital, Shelby turned her attention back to the game, which still had a quarter remaining to play. Isaac’s older brother was also playing in the game that night, and his younger sister was one of Shelby’s athletic training student aides. Not only did she continue to do her job for the rest of the game, she was also able to balance the emotional needs of the siblings, players and coaches. I consider it an exemplary demonstration of true professionalism.
Although there was no evidence or indication of a prior head injury at any time in the season, Isaac was diagnosed with second impact syndrome. Given the grave outcomes associated with this diagnosis, and the fact that Isaac is in remarkably good condition today, with the possibility of full recovery, it seems nearly miraculous. However, I believe that it was the many stepping stones that Shelby had laid down, over many years, that created the optimal opportunity for Isaac to get the level of care necessary for him to be doing as well as he is. His mother, Jenny, has said multiple times in the media and to all who ask, Shelby saved her son’s life.
Stacey J. Ritter, MS, ATC, Director of Sports Medicine & Athletic Training for San Luis Sports Therapy states “As the director for athletic training outreach programs at 11 high schools in California, this was an example of a nightmare, and dream come true at the same time. I hoped it would never happen on our watch, but when it did, Shelby could not have handled it more perfectly.”
Courtesy of Stacey J. Ritter, MS, ATC
Director of Sports Medicine & Athletic Training for San Luis Sports Therapy