How some high schools are taking extra measures for student-athlete safety

Youth sports safety is always top of mind for parents - and Birmingham Seaholm showed FOX 2 what it is doing to prioritize it.

"We’re very excited here not only for the start of fall sports and all of our teams but we’re in the process of opening up this beautiful new athletic facility," said Athletic Director Aaron Frank.

Injuries are inevitable every sports season. According to the American Heart Association, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading medical cause of death among NCAA student-athletes.

There’s also concern about the growing number of similar incidents among high school student-athletes.

"We’re coming out of the pandemic where a lot of these kids were way more sedentary," Frank said. "And then they’re resuming a level of activity versus maybe where in previous years, had been a continuous level of activity. So I think all those things come into play."

Back in February, Cartier Woods, a senior at Detroit Northwestern High School, died after falling into cardiac arrest while playing basketball. Woods was only 18.

"All of our students are required to have a physical exam before they participate," Frank said. "So we try to do everything we can to plan ahead of time, and then we try to have a really detailed and practice plan in place to deal with an emergency if one arises.

Some schools have certified athletic trainers, some schools have other licensed professionals, medical first responders, and others. Which is why more school districts, including Birmingham, continue to prioritize and fine-tune their safety protocols.

Frank says he takes no shortcuts when it comes to his student-athletes.

"It’s really on the top of my mind every single day. You know the risks that are inherent in not only athletics, but in the number of people we have on campus every day," he said. "We have about 23 teams running right now. It’s varsity, JV, then some freshmen and JV b-levels of some sports."

A lot of teams mean a lot of athletes to oversee and care for, especially during big games.

"We typically have Birmingham Fire and paramedics on site - and so that’s the highest level of support, along with our team doctor and he typically also has some residents or medical students with him."

Not every district is as fortunate. The National Athletic Trainers Association, finds 80.1% of suburban schools have access to an athletic trainer, they are also 3 to 4 times more likely to benefit from services than a rural school.

At Seaholm, all coaches at all levels, are required to know CPR.

"Also anyone who is involved in athletics is able to locate the closest (Automated External Defibrillator)," he said.

The Seaholm sports campus has six AEDs available for emergencies.