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Martinsville City Schools change rules after middle school student gets hurt playing football

Published On: Oct 25 2013 05:05:30 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 25 2013 08:34:57 PM EDT

Shelby White was surprised when no EMTs were on the field.


It's headaches and memory loss that now bother Eric Bratcher.

"Just this one part right here is the only part that hurts," Bratcher said.

He's played football his entire life, never missed a season, much less a game, for about 9 years, until last month.

"Getting hit real hard and going to the hospital. That's all I can remember," Bratcher said.

His mother, Shelby White says Bratcher was knocked unconscious after being hit near the end of the fourth quarter. When he didn't get up, she rushed to the field.

"He stayed down too long," White said. "The only people there on the field were the coaches and the referees."

Bratcher had a concussion. His mother said she was surprised because there were no Emergency Medical Technicians or EMTs on the field. A police officer asked if she wanted to call 911.

"I just want the city schools, Martinsville City, to get EMT on the sidelines plus an available vehicle because every second a kid is laying on the field it counts," White said.

All Martinsville City ambulances were on other calls, so this call rolled to another rescue service.

White says it took the ambulance 30 minutes to arrive from the time her son got hurt. School leaders say the ambulance arrived in 10 minutes.

The game was played at Martinsville High School stadium, which is less than a quarter of a mile from the hospital.

"So if the ambulance would have been there on site, they could have cut their time in half and taken him right off," White said.

Martinsville Schools Superintendent Pamela Heath says the school system follows the Virginia High School League's rules for all games of all grades.

"Our coaches are trained, they have to go through training and that is the basic piece that is required there at the middle school level. And beyond that, you're really going above and beyond," Superintendent Heath said.

Other schools in our area follow the same guidelines.

For example, Lynchburg City Schools, middle school coaches use first aid training until an ambulance arrives.

Carroll County has a trainers assistant at most home games and has coaches trained in first aid.

At every high school football game the Virginia High School League requires that a trainer be on hand and EMTs are suggested.

The organization doesn't regulate what medical staff is required for middle school games.

Because of what happened to Eric Bratcher, the Martinsville City school district is now paying an EMT to be at all home games.

Bratcher's mom is visiting city council and school board meetings and asking for even more medical attention during middle school games.