Coaches work hard to keep players safe in heat

A high school football player is still in critical condition after getting sick because of the heat during football practice. So far, three players are being treated for heat related illness.
A high school football player is still in critical condition after getting sick because of the heat during football practice.  So far, three players are being treated for heat related illness.

Paramedics rushed Will James, a student at Pulaski Academy, to the hospital Friday night.  His family is not releasing any information on his condition.

Lamar's Junior Lineman Tyler Davenport got sick Wednesday.  According to medical officials, he's no longer in the Arkansas Children's Hospital system. But Camden Fairview sophomore Khiry Neal is still at Children's in critical condition.

After three high school football players were taken to the hospital in one single week, coaches say they're doing what they can to prevent anymore heat-related medical issues from happening.  They add there are critical decisions the athletes need to be making in order to practice in the heat safely.

"They happen from high school, college, all the way up to the NFL. People go down from heat exhaustion. So it's something that is going to happen," says Parkview High School football coach William Hardiman.

Hardiman has had players drop from heat exhaustion numerous times in his 15 year coaching career.  He's changed practice to cooler times of day, incorporated breaks for his athletes and provides gallons of water, but he says the coach can only do so much.

"You can change your practice schedule, you can change it all up, but if a student doesn't take care of his body, it's going to happen," says Coach Hardiman.

Doctors at Saint Vincent say when athletes practice in this kind of heat body temperatures can get higher than 107 degrees.  Now imagine adding layers of gear and constant dehydration to the risk.

"If you do what you're supposed to do and you acclimate yourself to the heat and you don't live in the air conditioning all summer and you come prepared, the probability of that happening is less," says Coach Hardiman.

"There is a lot of off-season work-outs to get them acclimated but it's hard to replicate that heat with pads on. when you're out there with pads on for hours a day," says Executive deputy director of AAA Dr. Joey Walters.

Acclamation isn't the only precaution. Coach Hardiman says he provides all the water he can during practice, but it still won't guarantee athletes are hydrating throughout the entire day.

"It could be heat exhaustion, it could be a broken arm, you feel terrible as a coach because you're responsible at that time," sasys Coach Hardiman.

Coach Kelly at Pulaski Academy coaches at the school where Will Jones, the most recent football player to be hospitalized, attends.  Last week he asked his players to raise their hands if they haven't had anything to eat yet that day.  Nine of his players raised their hands, which means at that time, these students had gone more than 20 hours without any food.

So again, the coaching staff only has so much control when it comes to the health of the players.
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