Jackson Smidt ’14 Honored for Saving a Life

Athletic Training alumnus Jackson Smidt ’14 was awarded the American Red Cross’ Certificate of Merit for his life-saving efforts at a sporting event.

By Aiyanna Klaphake '20

February 17, 2020 | 10 a.m.

Smidt and his wife, Chelsea, stand for a photo after Smidt is presented the American Red Cross' Certificate of Merit.

Smidt and his wife, Chelsea, stand for a photo after Smidt is presented the American Red Cross' Certificate of Merit.

For Jackson Smidt ’14, it was just another day on the job. As the associate head athletics trainer for the University of California Santa Barbara, Smidt works with the school’s athletes to manage, evaluate, and treat injuries. Part of this role includes attending the college’s sporting events, ensuring athletes have access to the care they need.

It was at one of these events in April 2019 where a tournament official collapsed in cardiac arrest. The response was immediate. “The trainers were able to jump into action,” Smidt says, “utilizing our CPR skills to help this individual.”

Smidt had been interested in athletic training since experiencing the value of the profession first-hand as a high school athlete. While studying in Bethel’s athletic training program, Smidt envisioned working in a professional sports setting, a dream made reality through an internship with the Minnesota Vikings. “Bethel provided the support, and it was great exposure to professional sports,” Smidt says of the experience. But as he continued his education by pursuing a master’s degree, Smidt felt college sports were a better fit. “I fell in love with the college setting,” he explains.

After the incident in April, Smidt’s supervisor nominated him for the American Red Cross’ Certificate of Merit. The certificate is one of the Red Cross’ highest honors and is signed by the president of the United States. Smidt was presented with his certificate in January at UC Santa Barbara. “I didn’t expect it,” Smidt says of the attention. “I was just doing my job that day.”

However, Smidt, who also teaches CPR classes, does appreciate how the award highlights the value of the athletic training field as a whole. “To receive an honor like this is good for the profession,” he says. “It shows the importance of having athletic trainers at events.”

Smidt is grateful for his time at Bethel and the way the athletic training program prepared him for both the next steps in his career and for the entirely unexpected. “I gained my initial skills at Bethel,” he says, “and I learned from some of the best mentors around to be able to eventually save this person’s life.”

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