High school football: Long transport time leads administrators to discuss ambulances at football games

Published: Sunday, Sept. 29 2013 11:35 p.m. MDT

Oregon State's Storm Woods gives a thumbs up as he is transported into an ambulance in the second half of the Utes game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

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PRICE — When Carbon linebacker Garrett Blanc was knocked out during a game at North Sanpete High, medical personnel quickly decided he needed to be transported to a hospital.

Once that call was made, however, it took 25 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the school and take the junior, who'd suffered a concussion, to a hospital.

“That was pretty disgusting to be honest,” Carbon head coach Jeff Blanc, who is also Garrett’s father, told the Sun (Carbon County) Advocate in a story that ran Sept. 27. “What if he had broken his neck out there? You’ve got to have things like this treated right away.”

The incident, which took place during Carbon’s Sept. 13 loss to North Sanpete, will be discussed by Region 12 principals Monday, Sept. 30. Carbon principal Bruce Bean said that while North Sanpete school officials have been very responsive to the concerns raised, they want to make sure this kind of situation doesn’t happen again as it could have tragic results.

“Garrett is going to be OK,” Bean told the Deseret News on Saturday. “It’s just a matter of the time it took to transport that has raised everybody’s anxiety.”

North Sanpete principal Nan Ault called Bean during halftime and tried to explain why the school didn’t have an ambulance at North Sanpete High during the game. Many schools have ambulances on-site during football games.

“The cost of having the emergency personnel from our area, who work as volunteers, be at the games was too costly for the district," Ault told the Sun Advocate.

The school has since worked out a deal with emergency medical personnel to have an ambulance on-site during games for the rest of the season, Ault said.

Bean said he understands that some rural communities may not be able to afford to pay an ambulance to be at every game, but believes that administrators should try to work something out so that situations like the one that left Blanc on the field for 25 minutes don’t occur again.

“We’re lucky because our EMS feel the liability of not having something there. Well, you can’t put a dollar amount on that,” he said. So the county doesn’t make the school district pay for the service. The school does have to pay for an ambulance to be on-site during its blue and white game, as it’s not a sanctioned contest.

“I don’t know how much a private company would cost,” he said. “I do know we don’t go to very many rural communities where they don’t have an ambulance.”

The fact that every school deals with unique circumstances and its own school community and school board make it difficult for the Utah High School Activities Association to make blanket mandates, assistant UHSAA director Kevin Dustin told the Deseret News Sunday night.

“That’s left up to the districts,” said Dustin, who oversees football. “Because of the diversity of communities, we don’t say you have to have this at every game.”

Resources available to communities like Whitehorse, a rural 1A school, differ greatly from a school like Alta, which is less than 2 miles from a major hospital. That, said Dustin, is the reason the UHSAA has not made ambulances at football games mandatory.

Bean believes it’s a critical need and that the principals should find a way to help each other so no teen is without that safety net. It will be discussed in the Region 12 meeting, which North Sanpete and Carbon are both members of, and it could also make its way to the UHSAA's executive committee.

“We’re going to discuss it Monday, and my proposal is if we have to raise our region dues to be able to cover some of this, we might have to do that,” Bean said. “There are also issues like if you do it for the varsity, should I have it at sub-varsity? Where do you draw the line?”

The complete Sun Advocate story by Kevin Scannell is available at sunad.com.

Twitter: adonsports

Email: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

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