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Raiders training staff helping to educate local students and administrators in emergency response training and athletic career options


The NFL recently announced the launch of The Smart Heart Sports Coalition, a collaboration across several sporting leagues and foundations – including the American Heart Association, American Red Cross and Damar Hamlin's Chasing M's Foundation – created to advocate for the adoption of evidence-based policies that will prevent fatal outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest among high school students.

The NFL Foundation has committed more than $1 million in grants to support nationwide CPR education and AED (automated external defibrillator) access and $20,000 in grants to each NFL club to promote CPR education and training.

As for the Raiders, this is an initiative they've undertaken for several years now dating back to being in Oakland, California. The Silver and Black's training staff is now taking things to the next level alongside the NFL to better serve the Southern Nevada community.

On Wednesday, March 29, the Raiders hosted a career day and emergency response review for high school and trade school students, as well as athletic administrators across the Las Vegas valley. The students were welcomed by President Sandra Douglass Morgan, an Eldorado High School alum.

The group was given a first-hand glance on the day-to-day duties of an athletic training staff, ranging from strength training to paramedic duties to sports medicine and sports nutrition, while also touring the team's facility. This is the second year they've held this event at Raiders Headquarters.

"When you get to this level, I feel that it is necessary to use our platform to push for positive changes in the community – wherever you're located," said Chris Cortez, the Raiders head athletic trainer who was introduced to his career field in high school. "I think it's important to globally give the highest quality of care regardless of what level you're at, whether it's high school, college or the NFL. I think it's important that we do the best for our kids and I think that's one of the main reasons why we're doing what we're doing."


A vital part of the event was a discussion with local athletic administrators over the necessity of having a proper emergency action plan in place – putting emphasis how to properly treat sudden cardiac events, cervical spine injuries and heat exhaustion.

"I hope they take some positive input to create forward progress and forward change," Cortez said of the administration in attendance. "For a lot of these individuals, it's just a refresher and they have a lot of things in place, but for those who may not, they have a second look at their emergency action plan and their processes and procedures to better support their staff and their students."

Todd Hamburg, an athletic trainer in Clark County School District for 28 years and program director for Northwest Career and Technical Academy, believed the refresher for him and his colleagues was incredibly beneficial. A main objective he and fellow athletic administrators discussed is how "more equity" needs to be put into having athletic trainers at the high school level in Southern Nevada.

"In regards to the athletic directors, it's just nice for them to hear it from somebody they classify as 'the big leagues,'" said Hamburg. "It's nice to hear this from somebody else, telling them what we already tell them, but it's nice to be reinforced from somebody from that perspective."

Students Raylynn Ramirez, who wants to go into medical examining, and Madelyn O'Neal, who one day hopes of practicing family medicine, said they took a lot from the education sessions, grateful for the new NFL team in the valley to host something of this magnitude for their community.

"Getting to see another outlook and portion of medicine that not a lot of people generally look at, which is sports, is really interesting to me," said Ramirez. "I didn't know a lot about sports medicine until I went to Northwest Career College and got to learn more about it there, but getting to see how many different careers truly play an aspect in the grand scheme of things was really interesting. ... Giving us the opportunity to be closer to an NFL team and professional sports has definitely broadened the amount of careers that we can go into."

"One of the things i really valued from these presentations today is seeing how much these healthcare professionals enjoyed the career paths they were working in," added O'Neal. "Making a decision as far as what we want to do for the rest of our lives is something we can't take lightly. The fact that each person said they were able to find their niche, they found a place they feel comfortable, they found something they love doing and it doesn't seem to age for them, is something really inspiring to me."

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