LH beats the heat with Kestrel technology

PEARCY — Lake Hamilton’s athletic department purchased Kestrel heat stress monitor technology to ensure safe practices for its student-athletes.

The school’s sports medicine team received a grant from the National Federation of State High School Associations to purchase the device.

The heat stress monitor checks the temperature and wind speed, and measures the humidity outside to make sure it is safe to practice. Lake Hamilton athletic trainer Heidi Balliette said to get a measurement, the device must be held three feet above the ground and will give an accurate measurement based on the three readings.

Heat in Arkansas is known to be very intense especially in the dog days of summer, and a heat stress monitor will assist the various coaching staffs at Lake Hamilton to ensure that conditions are not unsafe for the athletes to practice.

Balliette oversees using the heat stress monitor before all practices to ensure the measurements are safe for all student-athletes.

“Per our emergency action plan, we have monitored heat for many years,” Balliette said. “We currently check the heat stress at all outdoor practices and provide training to our coaching staff on heat stress. We modify and adjust practice gear and times for each practice depending upon weather variables and incorporate numerous breaks for water and time to cool down.”

Lake Hamilton football will not be the only ones benefiting from this technology, which will be used for all outdoor sports, along with hydrating and time schedules to avoid the hottest parts of the day.

This technology will help aid in preventing heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“It’s just another tool that we can use to help keep our kids safe,” Lake Hamilton head football coach Tommy Gilleran said.

Heat stroke and other heat-related injuries are serious threats during the summer, so the new tool will be another part of the equation to keep Lake Hamilton athletes safe.

“I feel,” Balliette said, “this will aid in continuing to help prevent heat injuries.”

If any student shows signs of heat-related illness they are to be immediately immersed in cold water — which is on standby at all practices — and evaluated by medical personnel, such as the certified athletic trainer, EMS, team doctor or hospital personnel if necessary.

“We have worked closely with emergency responders in Garland County to incorporate a ‘cool first, transport second’ protocol,” Balliette said. “We spend time educating our athletes on proper hydration and nutrition and how important it is to stay hydrated.”

At the high school level the staff members like Balliette have been taking action to avoid the seriousness of heat exhaustion and heat stroke to help protect student-athletes for their health and futures.

Some schools across Arkansas have become more cautious when it comes to these heat-related illnesses. Balliette said over 100 schools have received or purchased their own Kestrel heat stress monitors and have begun using them.

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