JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- Joey, 18, has played football as long as he can remember, but he said this is the worst injury he's ever experienced.
"I just got rolled up on and I tried getting up and it was like a weird feeling and then I saw it sideways and it was just pain started hitting," he said.
It happened during the first play in the Nov. 3 game between Atlantic Coast and Sandalwood High School.
"It felt like forever before an ambulance got there, it felt like hours," he said.
The teenager was on the ground while the trainers tried to console him. Heide Stuart, his mother, said it took seventeen minutes before a JFRD rescue would arrive.
"That was just from the time they got the call until they got to the school," she said.
Stuart said that's when she discovered there were no ambulances present during the game.
"There was no ambulance there," Stuart said. "Nothing!"
It is not what she expected. The mother of six used to live in Pinellas County. Her son played football there and she said it was a different experience.
"There was an ambulance at every field and you had to buy insurance," she said.
She finds it troubling to know that when it comes to high school football having an ambulance is a recommendation and not a requirement.
"I wish parents knew. I mean really knew," Stuart said.
She wants the Duval County School District to make it policy to have an ambulance at all games starting next season.
"We knew the risk in signing up to play football but we didn't realize there is absolutely no accountability for the district," Stuart said. "We would love to see ambulances at the field, ambulances that can actually service the kids."
The Duval County School Board released the following statement:
Thank you for reaching out to us. Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) takes the safety of our students and student athletes very seriously. While the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) provides recommendations for student-athlete safety, we are proud to have safety measures that exceed the FHSAA’s recommendations. These requirements begin with each school having an emergency action plan in place. This plan is reviewed prior to each competition as a first step to injury prevention and emergency care. This review frequently includes the participation of our referees, athletic director, police services and administrators along with both the home and visiting team medical staff.
Specifically, for our varsity football games, we have certified athletic trainers, sports medicine physicians and emergency medical services on-site. In the event of an injury, this team of medical officials responds to assess the injury and begin the care process. All of our schools (42), middle and high, have an agreement with an emergency services partner who provides EMTs and Paramedics for football events, as well as, transportation services. While emergency vehicles are not always available to be on-site during the games, the on-site medical professionals initiate care and are in direct communication with the transportation vehicle, if needed. We are confident our preparations provide for some of the safest environments in our region for our student-athletes and our opposing teams.
As you know, injuries are an inherent risk of sports and DCPS makes every effort to mitigate any unnecessary risks.
She said in 2017 when the injury rate of high school athletes continues to rise, not having an ambulance at a game is unacceptable.
"If it was a brain injury or a head injury it could have been a different outcome," she said.
A spokesperson for the Clay County School District said ambulances are at all high school football games.
No word on St. Johns County and Duval County has yet to respond.
The Florida High School Athletic Association provided the following statement.
"There is no statewide rule requiring emergency vehicles at high school football games. Some school districts in the state require each school to have one on site. Some school districts do not. It is obviously recommended but not required due to it being cost prohibitive. Some counties and schools have the budget emergency vehicles at games, while others do not. Since the state is so large and the difference between metropolitan areas and rural areas so vast, we cannot simply apply a 'One-size fits all' application to this due to the varying budgets around the state. That is why we recommend it but cannot require it."
Each student-athlete is required to fill out an EL3 Form. Please read Section G regarding insurance. It should be noted some schools and school districts have football-specific insurance plans.
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