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Rams' latest push for AB 796 and regulation of California high school athletic trainers heads to Sacramento

A Rams contingent is headed to Sacramento for a committee hearing Tuesday that will include AB 796, which would establish the California Board of Athletic Training within the Department of Consumer Affairs to exercise licensing, regulatory, and disciplinary functions under the act. It would also prohibit a person from practicing as an athletic trainer or using certain titles or terms without being licensed by the board.

Rams Vice President of Sports Medicine and Performance Reggie Scott and Director of Government Affairs Maria Camacho will both be at the state capital as part of the organization's latest push to get the bill passed.

"This is the next step moving forward with this process of trying to get this bill passed," Scott told "Meeting with this next group of business and government affairs, it's the next step, and it's a big step. I think we get past this step, we can keep moving forward towards the towards the floor."

The current absence of licensure is both a public health issue and a social justice issue, Scott said, given the amount of student athletes at high schools and secondary schools who don't an athletic trainer and the inability for under-resourced communities to get proper care.

There are 800,000 high school athletes in the state, and just 56% of schools have access to an athletic trainer. Per the California Athletic Trainers' Association (CATA). approximately 20% of people employed as athletic trainers in California high schools have not graduated from a Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) Accredited program, met the appropriate level of education, or passed a national certification exam to become a certified athletic trainer, potentially placing thousands of young people at great risk. 

From a national standpoint, nearly 300 sport-related high school catastrophic injuries and more than 80 sport-related high school deaths have occurred in the past five years, with 90% of these deaths occurring due to cardiac arrest, heat/neck injuries, exertional heat stroke and exertional sickling. California currently mandates only 31% of the policies proven to reduce these deaths.

Scott again emphasized these deaths are all preventable with proper certified care – "when you're talking about heat exertion, rapid, emergent, early care, the rate of survival is damn near 100%, it is really that well, compared to late access to the appropriate care, death can happen" – the importance of which was illustrated in January when the quick thinking of first responders and the Bills' athletic training staff ultimately saved safety Damar Hamlin's life after suffering what was later determined to be commotio cordis, "an extremely rare consequence of blunt force trauma to the heart that happens at exactly the wrong time in the heart rhythm, causing the heart to stop beating effectively," according to the American Heart Association.

"When you send your kids to school, the health and safety of them, we think it's a premium and we think it's something that parents are rest assured on that they're getting the proper care that they need," Scott said. "Nurse is a licensed practice, allied healthcare profession in the state of California. Well, look at it from an athletic standpoint, athletes. When they're out there, a lot of parents do expect that their kids are safe and they have the quality care that's needed in case of an emergency. We know based on the Damar Hamlin situation how critical and how real that is."

For Scott, tomorrow will be considered a success if the bill passes through the committee and heads to the floor. They're taking things one day at a time, one step at a time in hopes of ultimately getting this bill passed completely.

"When you're talking to parents, I think we all kind of assume our kids are safe when they're out there, but there's no allied healthcare professional that's out there watching our kids when they're in sports," Scott said. "That's a public safety issue, and we need to address that."

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