Athletic trainer goes into action after Crenshaw coach Ed Waters collapses


Crenshaw basketball coach Ed Waters was in stable condition and talking from his hospital bed in an intensive care unit Thursday after he collapsed in front of the bench during a basketball game against View Park Prep on Wednesday night.

The school’s certified athletic trainer, Ellen Kelly, and her students provided critical help during the medical emergency, according to athletic director Chris Burgess.

Waters collapsed in front of his bench at Angelou High with 31 seconds left in a 48-47 loss. That’s when Kelly, who works with Team HEAL, went into action. She’s also a teacher at Crenshaw who trains students. She always carries with her an automated external defibrillator (AED), which is used to restore a regular heart rhythm during cardiac arrest. She and others began CPR and used the AED while waiting for paramedics, Burgess said.

“She’s a hero,” Burgess said. “If she wouldn’t have been there, we might have lost him.”

There are very few certified athletic trainers among Los Angeles Unified School District schools. Team HEAL has helped schools get access to certified athletic trainers. Crenshaw, Dorsey, Banning, Carson and Westchester all have certified athletic trainers through the HEAL program, which was founded by Dr. Clarence L. Shields.

Research recently conducted by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, and published in the Journal of Athletic Training, showed that fewer than 45% of California high schools have full-time certified athletic trainers. Some personnel listed as trainers, the research showed, are what NATA refers to as unqualified health professionals because they lack certification.

Fewer than 15% of California high schools employ a full-time, year-round certified athletic trainer, the research showed.

The LAUSD approved certified athletic trainer as an official position last year, according to Trent Cornelius, LAUSD athletic coordinator. The five Team HEAL trainers are no longer funded by a third party. There are eight certified athletic trainers in LAUSD. Kennedy, Taft and Venice also have certified athletic trainers. There are 83 schools that have basketball programs in the district.

“We look to seek solutions on how to expand,” Cornelius said.

Cornelius said LAUSD is going to bring in someone to work on outreach with communities and schools on how to facilitate the demands needed to bring in a certified athletic trainer.

Tim Moscicki, a longtime certified athletic trainer at Los Angeles Loyola, a private school, said, “This is a prime example why a certified athletic trainer should be at all high school athletic events. Certified athletic trainers are trained to deal with situations like this and other emergencies that might happen.”