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LMC in the News

Athletic trainers honored for helping save life of Contra Costa College football player

By Damin Esper
For the Contra Costa Times

Posted: 05/07/2010 07:54:23 PM PDT
Updated: 05/08/2010 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 Wright.

"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 appropriate fashion.

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 events.

"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.