It began as a typical day on the Richardson High School (Texas) football field. The team was practicing and going through its workouts.
On a normal day, athletic trainer Maria Rosanelli is used to handling the everyday tweaked ankles and other minor injuries, but what happened next was anything but normal.
Her quick reaction when a student collapsed on the football field is what saved his life that day. He was unresponsive, not breathing and didn’t have a pulse.
After performing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator, Rosanelli saved the student’s life, executing her job in such a way that would make all trainers across the country proud.
The University of Kansas Hospital president and CEO, Bob Page, recognized Rosanelli for the extraordinary care she provided that day at the 101 Awards benefitting The University of Kansas Hospital on Saturday night.
“With those instances, that’s why we’re there,” Rosanelli said. “You never know when things like this can happen. We’re there for those emergency situations and in any kind of event.”
Prior to being recognized at the ceremony, Rosanelli received a firsthand tour of the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility with the head athletic trainer of the Chiefs and president of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society, Rick Burkholder.
“That’s the apex of what we do. We’re lifeguards for athletes, and [Rosanelli] got called to duty and handled it flawlessly,” Burkholder said. “I think it’s so cool that an athletic trainer is being recognized at an NFL event. It probably won’t get the recognition that (Chiefs head coach) Andy Reid and (Carolina Panthers head coach) Ron Rivera get, but it’s probably more important what she did this football season than what they did.”
Reid and Rivera were named the AFC and NFC Coaches of the Year on Saturday night.
Currently, only 55 percent of all public high schools have a full-time athletic trainer on staff.
Rosanelli, who has been a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association since 2005, is no stranger to emergencies. Her quick responsiveness once saved a concussed student who would have nearly suffered severe brain damage if it were not for her immediate actions.
“Athletic training really can be a thankless industry, or job,” Rosanelli added. “To be the first year, it’s really special. And I think it’s great to open up people’s eyes for athletic trainers at every level, in whatever setting they work in and bring attention to it.”
The NFL recognizes the importance that athletic trainers such as Rosanelli have on the wellness, health and impact of young athletes everywhere.
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