(KLFY) – Emergencies and injuries can happen at any time on the field, on the court, or on the track.

News 10 spoke with Louisiana Athletic Trainers’ Association President Philip Shaw who explained what an athletic trainer is and why they are important for athletes.

“We are allied healthcare professionals that specialize in the treatment, rehabilitation, and reconditioning of athletic-related injuries or injuries that happen to physically active populations,” Shaw said.

Shaw also said that in the “state of Louisiana, there is not a law or a requirement that says a high school has to employ an athletic trainer.”

This may be the case but even without an athletic trainer, Ochsner Lafayette’s Director of Sports Medicine JD Boudreaux told News 10 that all high schools are prepared.  

“Reviewing emergency action plans and making sure the coaches and administrators know what to do in times of emergency is also a role of our local athletic trainers,” Boudreaux said.

“As you can see with the Damar Hamlin situation, it only takes one of those instances to really bring the light to exactly what we do,” Shaw said.

And what they do is save lives. Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on Jan. 2. Hamlin’s life was saved by a Bills’ athletic trainer who gave him CPR and administered an AED on the field. But what is an AED?

“Automated external defibrillator, anywhere you have large crowds or groups you should have one and what it does is if a person goes into a cardiac event or goes unconscious and is unresponsive, you can hook up pads to the person and it tells you whether their heart is beating or not. It tells you to do CPR. It tells you if they need a shock”, BJ Duplantis said.

BJ Duplantis is in his 16th year as an associate director of sports medicine at UL and he said that having more athletic trainers at the college level is also important.

“We can provide a better service the more of us there are. There’s 450 student-athletes that we service with 11 athletic trainers,” Duplantis said. “Eventually it’s going to come to where you need an athletic trainer at youth recreation centers.”

Speaking of the youth, the owner of the Saints and Pelicans Gayle Benson donated AEDs to New Orleans and Jefferson Parish recreation departments. With these donations, kids can participate in sports without having to worry about injuries.

“Without everyone working as a coordinated team, the outcome isn’t what it is as you saw with Damar Hamlin. It’s people putting the athlete first,” Boudreaux said.

Duplantis added, “You know sometimes we have to protect athletes from themselves. You can’t go out there and play injured. We want to make sure your quality of life is the best after you leave us.”

If you are interested in becoming an athletic trainer you can take pre-athletic training classes at your college or university and then contact a master’s degree program.