Indiana legislation would train coaches to ID heat exhaustion in student-athletes

A football player takes a drink. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the weather warms up, more student-athletes across the state could risk heat exhaustion.

It’s so much of an issue, one state lawmaker said he wants to make sure all coaches know how to deal with it.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said heat-related illness can kill you if it isn’t properly diagnosed or treated. The National Athletic Trainer’s Association says 20 athletes died from heat-stroke from 2010-2015.

State Rep. Ron Bacon, a softball coach and a Republican from Chandler, said, “Nationally, heat-related death are the No. 1 killer of student-athletes.”

The stats were alarming enough to get lawmakers talking on the Senate floor Wednesday. The goal was to help save child athletes.

In his 24 years of coaching high school softball, Bacon said he has learned how to spot heat exhaustion.

“Suddenly, they’re dropping, running out of gas, running our of energy. It’s hot. You’ve got to recognize how hot it is … how often you need to do water breaks,” Bacon said.

It’s why Bacon said his bill would require student-athlete’s coaches to take an online, certified, one-hour heat-related illness course at least every two years. Bacon said his previous bill, which is now law, already requires concussion training.

Bacon said, “It was a matter of making sure our coaches are educated to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion.”

Tim Drudge, the president-elect of the Indiana Athletic Trainer’s Association, said, “With this legislation, Indiana would join the list of states that have encompassed the head, heart and heat triad in protecting athletes of all youth sports.”

The idea sailed through the House in January and got a committee hearing Wednesday.