Medical coverage of high school football in Wisconsin in 1997

Clin J Sport Med. 1999 Oct;9(4):209-15. doi: 10.1097/00042752-199910000-00005.


Objective: The goals of this study were to assess the health care available to Wisconsin high school football players and to assess high schools' compliance with safety requirements of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA).

Design: The design was a cross-sectional survey-based study.

Setting: The setting consisted of WIAA high schools.

Participants: Athletic directors of WIAA high school football programs participated in the survey.

Main outcome measures: The main outcome measures were the prevalence of medical coverage by physicians, certified athletic trainers, and ambulance personnel at football games and practice and the prevalence of compliance with WIAA requirements.

Results: Seventy-seven percent (302/392) of surveys were returned. Thirty-six percent of schools had a designated team physician. Eighty-seven percent had a trainer, and 86% were certified athletic trainers (Athletic Trainer Certified, ATC). At practice and scrimmage, 79% had an ambulance available or on call, 52% had a trainer present, and 28% had a physician on call. At football games, 71% had an ambulance, 67% a certified athletic trainer, 48% an emergency medical technician, and 45% a physician present. Regarding WIAA requirements, 9% had no accessible phone, 27% had no written emergency plan of action, 92% had gloves, and 92% had blood spill kits. Larger schools had better compliance with WIAA requirements than did smaller schools.

Conclusion: Health care coverage was provided mainly by trainers and ambulance personnel, although physicians were routinely present at almost half of all games. Failure to comply with WIAA medical coverage requirements was not infrequent. This study forms the basis for an informational intervention, providing an opportunity to correct deficits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • First Aid
  • Football*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • School Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wisconsin