trainers honored for helping save life of Contra Costa College football player
By Damin Esper
For the Contra Costa Times
07:54:23 PM PDT
05:38:11 PM PDT
Los Medanos College athletic
trainer Annie Martin and her Contra Costa College counterpart, Brian Powelson,
were honored recently for helping save the life of a football player injured
during a game in September.
Martin and Powelson rushed
onto the field when Contra Costa College's Wali Wright collapsed while making a
tackle on the first play of a game between LMC and CCC on Sept. 5. Wright, a
defensive back, dropped to the field after a helmet-to-helmet collision.
Martin and Powelson are
credited for saving Wright's life because of their quick response to the neck
injury, and have been recognized as trainers of the year by the California
Community College Athletic Trainers' Association.
The play happened closer to
the LMC sideline, and Martin was first on the scene.
"Immediately as I got to
him, I was able to determine we were dealing with a potentially serious head
and neck injury," said Martin, 41. "Brian and I were able to
stabilize him until emergency personnel got there.
"Every year, I go
through this training with student athletic trainers, and we practice. And we
hope to never use this."
Powelson, 42, said Wright did
not move after falling backward to the turf.
"As I was heading out
toward (Martin), she just gave me a wide-eyed look that there was something
serious going on here. I was calling his name, trying to get his attention,
trying to get a response.
"His eyes were looking at me wanting to respond, but he couldn't do it."
The key was immobilizing
"We were keeping his
head and his helmet in a still position," Powelson said. "Annie was
keeping his head still while we were prepping him for rescue breathing."
Wright is now in a
rehabilitation facility in Hollywood. According to his mother, Paola, he has
all his feeling back but can only move his toes.
"He's still on a
ventilator," she said. "He was weened off it, but they weened him off
it too soon. He can feel everything, but it's the movement."
Since the accident, Wali
Wright became a father.
"He's in good
spirits," his mother said. "He has a new baby. Two months old. Little
girl. His fiancee and his family supports him."
Contra Costa athletic
director John Wade said it was a good thing Powelson and Martin were at the
game. With state budget cuts an annual ritual, some could view athletic
trainers as a luxury.
"It was just fortunate
that we have athletic trainers," Wade said. "It's great to have a
trainer that's very competent, and was able to respond in a quick and
Two other trainers from
Fullerton College also were honored at the April 1 ceremony in Ontario. They
were cited for helping save the life of a baseball player.
Martin has been heavily
involved in efforts to improve athlete safety over the years. She has been
pushing to have automated external defibrillators available at all sporting
"What's happening now is
if schools have an (defibrillator) on campus, they're most likely in the
nurse's office," she said. "If school ends at 3, the nurse's office
is locked up. And most athletic events start at 3."
Martin recently became
secretary of the athletic trainers association. The position has increased her
visibility on the issue.
Martin graduated from
Carondelet High School in Concord and now lives in Oakley. She has been at Los
Medanos for six years. Powelson has been working at Contra Costa for 15 years
and lives in Concord.