SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — There will be one thing missing from the high school football field this year – ambulances.

“We have an increase in call volume across all of our service areas,” Mercy Director of Operations for Emergency Services Luke Walker said. “We want to make sure that our ambulances are available for medical emergencies and strategically placing them where instead of having four ambulances dedicated for four football games.”

Walker said there is no law from the state or Missouri State High School Activities Association that requires an ambulance at a game before teams can start playing.

“It is just what we have done for so many years in the community that that’s what everyone was used to,” Walker said.

To be more efficient, Walker said there be one ambulance dedicated for two games. Emergency Management Services (EMS) will park the ambulance at a central location between the two schools they are covering.

“The goal is not to pull resources, it’s to more efficiently use them,” Walker said. “We are not making any decisions that are going to delay care when someone does need an ambulance.”

Walker said it is very rare that a student-athlete gets severely injured during a game. Most of the time, Walker said athletes will get sprains or strains, which trainers can address.

“For each football team, which includes obviously about the five Springfield public schools and Catholic, what we have at least one [trainer] per team,” Regional Administrative Director for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics Jim Raynor said. “Because of our relationship with Missouri State University and Mercy Health Systems and our sports medicine program, we have additional licensed professionals on the sideline. So most of the time there’s two [trainers].”

Raynor said trainers are usually the first line of defense when it comes to a player getting injured. The trainers work with the teams daily at practice and come to the games.

“SPS works very closely with the sports medicine team at Mercy to make sure that all of our student-athletes remain healthy and are prepared to engage in activities throughout the school year and then in the event of an injury,” SPS Chief Communications Director Stephen Hall said.

CoxHealth sent KOLR10 a statement sharing the support the hospital provides at football games.

At CoxHealth, our priority is to provide the best care for our communities. We are always there to provide care and support for local schools and sporting events, and we are confident that we will continue providing that same level of care, whether an ambulance is physically on campus or is nearby.

SPS wants parents to know there will still be help available at the games.

“We trust the experts to make the decision that they need to make about deploying resources forces in the best way to serve our region,” Hall said. “This has been the existing protocol for a long time for all J.V. games and middle school football games, the change is really not significant, and I think that should also be reassuring.”