Student Athletes Learn Life-Saving Skills

When Tommy Mallon was seriously injured while playing lacrosse, an athletic trainer on the field saved his life

By R. Stickney
|  Friday, Jan 20, 2012  |  Updated 12:18 PM PDT
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A local charity wants to empower student athletes to recognize symptoms of concussions, neck injuries and other life-threatening conditions.

The program called "Athletes Saving Athletes" trained dozens of student-athletes Friday on what to look for when a teammate is seriously injured on the field.

“If you see your teammate go down, you don’t have to tell him to get up right away,” said the program’s founder Thomas Mallon. “You can make him stay down and wait for properly-educated people to get there like a doctor or a trainer.”

Mallon was seriously injured while playing lacrosse for Santa Fe Christian High School.

He broke his neck on the first vertebrae in three places. If he had gotten up, there would’ve been nothing there to keep his spine in place.

“Tommy was saved because someone on the field knew what to do,” said Riki Kirchhoff.

She was the athletic trainer on the field the day Mallon went down.

When she reached him on the field, she went through the checklist for a concussion and discovered Mallon had lost sensation at the base of his neck.

She called for an ambulance and got him the medical treatment he needed right away.

Mallon credits her with saving his life.

Now a University of San Diego student, Mallon works with Kirchhoff to spread what he’s learned to other student athletes.

“They’re the first ones on the field, they are going to be the first ones there and if they have that knowledge they hopefully will be able to save a life if they need to,” he said.

Two Santa Fe Christian High School athletes from each campus sport were nominated by their coach to attend the program and represent their team.

The school is the first of 10 high schools in San Diego County to receive the five-hour program.

Each student will be CPR-certified, AED-certified and will be educated in sports safety. 

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