Lack Of EMT Presence At Lansing School District Puts Student Athlete Safety On The Line
One of the great pleasures I've had in my roughly 12 years as a broadcaster is calling the play-by-play action of Mid-Michigan High School Football and Basketball. Being a huge sports fan, there is something quite refreshing about the purity that remains with high school athletics. Being a born and raised local makes it that much more special. Once upon a time, all amateur sports shared that same charm, but because of social media, TV and cable contracts, and overall hype, amateur sports at the college level are morphing into clones of their professional counterparts.
Despite the vast differences between the highest levels, and the purest levels, the common thread that has finally taken center stage over the past decade is an emphasis on player safety. With head injuries and other life threatening injuries under the spotlights and microscopes, I scratch my noggin looking for a reason for what I witnessed last Friday at Lansing Sexton High School during their contest against Lansing Everett.
Late in the fourth quarter of another classic battle between the two crosstown rivals, Lansing Everett's quarterback Lane Porter sustained a serious injury that reportedly left him unconscious for a period of time. My broadcast partner, Jack Ebling, received information from the Everett coaching staff that Porter reported no feeling in his feet once he came to. This information came to light after the game's completion. But, I wonder what was going through the minds of players, coaches, trainers, administrators, and more importantly, Lane Porter and his parents in the dramatic moments as they unfolded.
Lansing Everett Coach Marcelle Carruthers spoke to Brock Palmbos just before 10:30 pm Friday night on air, and told him that Porter was transported to a local hospital, and had feeling in all of his extremities...welcomed good news. Obviously, there were some tense moments in the 15-20 minutes it took for an ambulance to arrive and tend to the injured player. Did you catch that? That's right...no ambulance or EMT presence at a high school football game. Forgive me, and call me naive that I would take for granted an ambulance being staged at every high school football game in the state. I'd be even more naive if I didn't draw the conclusion that cost is the reason as to why there is not. And, that is sad...even more so that it comes at the expense of student athletes.
Budget problems, dwindling enrollment numbers, and crumbling, less than half-full facilities have plagued the Lansing School District for decades. I could start a political rant about the ineffectiveness of higher administrators and school board members; or schools of choice for that matter, but what good what it do? When it comes to policy, and the handling of situations like Friday night, that directly lies in the hands of the school board and superintendent. Voters elect the board members, who hire the administrators. Until the community opens their eyes and bothers to get involved, it's a moot point. If cost is the major factor preventing on-site EMT service at these games, I feel it, too, relies upon the community to get involved. Where are the city leaders? The public safety administrators? The parents and taxpayers? I know how expensive an ambulance run can be in The City of Lansing. But, I don't understand how much more expensive it can be to LFD if they were to stage a wagon at Majdeski or Ross Stadium and dispatch that unit, if need be, from the school, as opposed to a station house.
If it really is that much more expensive, where are the major health care providers in Lansing? Given the recent, major expansions of both, it seems that they might be able to put forth a little effort in resources and/or finances to assist...for the good of the community they serve. I'm not one to tell corporations or individuals how to spend their money. It just seems like the right thing to do...especially when one is waiting for continued failure of LSD so it can poach its adjacent property for pennies on the dollar.
As I sit and, as one angry caller put it, paint the Lansing School District with a broad brush, I know there is a lack of EMT presence at many schools in Michigan...even right here in Mid-Michigan. But, what I witnessed happened at a Lansing School District facility. I saw a young man with serious injury wait for trained EMT's for 15-20 minutes, motionless on a football field.
Know that this is not a witch hunt against the Lansing Fire Department, either. I don't know the sideline process of determining when they are needed...there was some time in those 15-20 minutes for somebody to decide to call 911. I do know that I'm glad Lane Porter is expected to fully recover, and the breakdown of policy and process Friday night did not lead to something more tragic. But, why should it take a tragedy to do what we all should know is the right thing to do?