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Athletic trainers step up to help battle coronavirus pandemic

Northwestern senior associate athletic director for health, safety and performance Tory Lindley addresses the Wildcats’ football team after practice in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2017. Lindley is the president of the National Athletic Trainers Association, which has put together an app to help athletic trainers assist understaffed hospitals and health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Northwestern University Athletics via AP)

By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
Athletic trainers across the country are changing their routines and joining the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Athletic Trainers Association has partnered with the Go4Ellis platform on an app aimed at helping trainers assist understaffed hospitals. The app was intended to give health care providers a database to look for help nationwide. More than 950 athletic trainers have signed up over the last week.
Christina Eyers generally oversees about 40 trainers in her role as a director of athletic training in Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System. Most of them are assisting medical staffs in and around Detroit, recently cited as a potential trouble spot in the pandemic.
“My staff has been very eager,” Eyers said.
They do not provide critical medical care. Instead, Eyers said her organization’s trainers have been screening patients, which typically means checking for symptoms and taking their temperatures. Some have helped in shipping prescriptions.
The assistance has come in handy.
“With the surge of patients we’re seeing, we’re taking an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Robert Albers, a senior sports medicine physician at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital who often works with trainers. “I don’t think it matters what avenue you’re normally in. You have to be ready to help out and step up. I really admire everything our athletic trainers have done.”
Tory Lindley, president of the NATA, said athletic trainers are accustomed to working with urgency amid chaotic environments. Eyers added they are calm under pressure from their experience dealing with athletes who suffer sudden acute injuries.
“With the skill set that athletic trainers have, the types of needs that our communities have now and the types of needs that hospital systems and pop-up clinics have, the athletic trainer skill set is perfectly suited for,” said Lindley, who also is Northwestern University’s senior associate athletic director for health, safety and performance.
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who are licensed or otherwise regulated to work with athletes and physically active people to prevent, diagnose and treat injuries and other emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions. They’re different from personal trainers, who focus primarily on fitness.