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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Summer starts Thursday with more and more student-athletes taking part in the season’s activities and possibly at risk for heat exhaustion.

It was so much of a concern that state law will change in less than two weeks to make sure all coaches of student-athletes in the state know how to handle it. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said heat-related illness can kill you if it isn’t properly diagnosed or treated. That’s why coaches and even athletes said the new law could help a lot of people.

High school senior James Barker’s heart and soul is on this football field along with his teammates. He knows the sun can be brutal.

The 18-year-old said, “It’s a mental thing. You have to get through it mentally.”

He plays guard for the Ben Davis Giants at one of Indiana’s largest high schools. 

Barker said, “As long as we get water in, a little break here and there, a little helmet off, then we’re good.” 

He said he knows his coaches and trainers make sure all the athletes stay safe and “watered up.” Baker said, “If something happens to us on the field, they’ll be ready. They’ll know what to do, fully trained.” 

Caleb Small, an assistant football coach for Ben Davis, said “We make sure we have planned water breaks throughout practice. There are times when we will take pads off to decrease the amount of sweat. Days like Monday (was), where it’s really humid, really hot in the 90s, those are days we limit the amount of time we have and do some different things inside as far as conditioning goes.” 

Small and his colleagues received training about heat-related illnesses via the Indiana High School Athletic Association. Small had his the other day. “We take a concussion test, a heat-illness test and a variety of other ones.”  

Starting July 1, state law will require all school coaches to take an online, certified, one-hour course on heat-related illness at least every two years.

Ben Davis High School athletic trainer Amy Baker said she believes this will also help smaller, rural schools that might not have quick access to medical professionals.

Baker said, “It’ll help them because the coaches will be more aware of what to look out for.” 

The lawmaker behind the law, State Rep. Ron Bacon said the current law already required concussion training. He said the training that school coaches must receive includes “no cost to coaches.”

In terms of why he created the laws, the Republican from Chandler said Wednesday by phone, “It’s the safety of the student-athletes. That’s part of my goal as an assistant coach for 21 years. We want them to be safe. Most coaches aren’t medically trained.”

Bacon added, “I think it will save lives, yes. We’re hoping it will save a lot of lives.”