GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — With high school football underway, coaches and players have been preparing for weeks for the Friday night lights.   

A key part of that preparation: athletic trainers.  

Athletic trainers have worked all summer with the team to keep players safe and healthy as possible, and to be there if they’re injured. 

 “Athletic trainers are what I like to refer to as the Swiss army knives of healthcare professionals when it comes to athletics,” said Dr. Steven Boksham, Cone Health orthopedic surgeon.  

Guilford County Schools partners with Cone Health to have athletic trainers at high school football games, like Kinley Mckay.   

“We are a critical part of healthcare, we are all licensed healthcare providers,” she said. 

Boksham, an orthopedic surgeon, supervises athletic trainers at Western Guilford High School.    

“Having an orthopedic surgeon, having an athletic trainer out there so that kids and parents, more importantly, know that their children are safe, I think is what it all comes down to.”

Athletic trainers are trained to respond to sports injuries and work with emergency medical services to render aid.   

“ACLs, shoulder dislocations, concussion protocol, any injuries to the head or neck region, we are out there making sure these kids are safe,” he said. 

They’re also prepared for the worst-case scenario. Athletic trainers helped save LeBron James’ son Bronny in July, and Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, in January. They both suffered cardiac arrest while playing sports.   

“I’ve been in a situation where emergency response was needed and zoning in and knowing what to do, having that background as an athletic trainer is imperative,” said McKay. 

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They also get to build relationships with the athletes, and for Dr. Boksham, knowing he plays a role in helping high school students achieve their athletic dreams is special.   

“It’s just an honor to be watching the kids out there under the Friday night lights having fun,” he said. 

As an added layer of safety, all Guilford County coaches and assistant coaches have to know CPR, how to deal with cardiac arrest using an AED and they’re trained to know concussion protocol. All Guilford County high schools have an AED on-site as well.