Athletic Trainers in Public Safety
ATs working with public safety officials – police, fire department or academies – provide injury prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reconditioning.
Roles and Responsibilities
Reducing Risk and Improving Health in Public Safety
Similar to traditional athletes, public safety personnel face physically demanding environments and must manage their health and safety in order to perform their work duties. The major difference is that personnel often are not afforded a warm-up period. They must be operationally ready to go at a moment’s notice. Unlike the sport setting, public safety personnel may be in life or death situations. The health of these professionals quite literally could impact their safety.
Athletic trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who work with various public safety agencies including fire, rescue, emergency medical services and law enforcement to improve health and safety on the job. In the realm of public safety, ATs combine preventative strategies, emergency care and rehabilitation to ensure that public safety workers can perform at optimal levels. ATs provide immediate access to health care, facilitate necessary referrals for specialized care, help return patients to complete functional return to duty and advocate for the patient’s best care. ATs apply their research skills to better understand the risks of these patients through injury tracking and documentation, as well as how to reduce risk with evidence based policies and procedures.
ATs working in public safety is still novel in many parts of the country. Agencies may hire an AT directly for full-time or part-time services. Area hospitals and physical therapy clinics may also provide athletic training services to government agencies through community outreach programs. Some agencies who have successfully integrated ATs into their companies include the San Antonio Fire Department, Denver South Metro Fire Department, Milwaukee Fire Department, Indianapolis Fire Department and Fairfax County (Fairfax, VA) Police Department.
As health care professionals, athletic trainers must abide by the regulations outlined in the statute of the state in which they are practicing. In conjunction with the state practice act, the athletic trainer’s individual education, training and skillset determines their unique scope of practice.
ATs combine preventative strategies, emergency care and rehabilitation to ensure that public safety workers can perform at optimal levels.