From the SLC: ATs Care's Future

October 5, 2018 by Beth Sitzler

Hello students and welcome to the SLC’s To The Students, an open letter from ATs Care Part 2! ATs Care is a program designed to offer crisis management training opportunities for athletic trainers with the effects after a critical incident. This is a peer-to-peer system to assist ATs and AT students when dealing with a difficult event. This is the second of two open letters to students – the first was from Jim Thronton, past-NATA president and founder of ATs Care – and is from David Middlemas, EdD, ATC, CCISM, the current chair from the ATs Cares Committee.


My first realization that there was a significant need for peer-support of athletic trainers after traumatic events was back in the early 1990s when two ATs who I supervised had to provide CPR for a young child who was injured in a fall while playing near a high school softball game in which an older sister was playing. Tragically, the child did not survive. The two ATs involved were devastated and there were no programs in existence at that time to help them. I had to rely on my experience as an AT and EMS to assist them the best I could. This began a 25-year quest to find and implement a way to never let another AT go without support when the unthinkable happens.

Eventually, I was able to find training in Psychological First Aid and Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and, along with a colleague, convinced the Athletic Trainers Society of New Jersey to form a committee and CISM team for ATs in the state. The ability to help my colleagues and AT students over the next 10 or so years has been one of the most rewarding things I have done. The team, now called ATs Care NJ, has grown to more than 25 members and is very much appreciated throughout the state.

Unfortunately, sometimes powerful initiatives and programs arise from tragic events. ATs Care, as a NATA initiative, was formed after one of our past presidents had an athlete killed in an accident. He received peer-support services from an ATSNJ team member and valued the benefit enough to propose ATs Care to the NATA Board of Directors.

Fast forward to today. ATs Care is a district-based, 14-member committee of NATA. We provide peer-support/CISM to services to ATs affected by traumatic events across the country. We have provided CISM training at 2 NATA conventions and in all NATA districts. We also support state and district associations as they train and organize their individual ATs Care Teams.

If you want to get involved, here’s what you need to know: You can find more informiaton on the ATs Care webpage. You will need to take the course “Assisting Individuals in Crisis.” There are also some experience requirements to be an active team member. Please look up your district ATs Care representative on the website or your state leadership for more information.

To sum up what ATs Care means to me, it is one of the most rewarding and humbling things I have ever done as an AT. I’m proud to be able to work with as talented and powerful a team of people, both at the state and national levels.


David A. Middlemas, EdD, ATC, CCISM

Chair-ATs Care Committee of the NATA

Team Leader-ATs Care National CISM/Peer-Support Team