Newswise — Working local sporting events is something​​ UWF alumna Tera Malarik ’21, an athletic trainer for Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, truly loves. It also gives her the opportunity to serve as a preceptor to UWF Master of Science in Athletic Training students like Anthony Perea-Quijano. A volleyball tournament in January, however, is one they will never forget. The two were at the Pounders Open Volleyball Tournament in Foley, Alabama, when a high school student’s medical emergency had them putting their education and experience into action.

Emma Ward, a local high school student, had been warming up when she started feeling unusually hot and weak. Sensing something was seriously wrong, her mother Brooke Ward rushed Emma to the athletic training room for help.

There, Malarik and Perea-Quijano calmly and quickly began assessing the situation and asking questions about Emma’s symptoms. Their examination revealed that in addition to Emma’s flushed face and labored breathing, the skin hidden by her uniform was covered in hives. Emma, who has severe food allergies, was in a state of Anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition that triggers the immune system to release a flood of chemicals that result in a sudden drop in blood pressure and narrowing of the airways.

While Malarik administered life-saving medical treatments, Perea-Quijano called 911, conveyed details of the emergency, coordinated with event security and met the ambulance in the parking lot. By the time he escorted the EMS team to the training room, they had been fully-briefed and were prepared for an efficient transfer of care.

Ward’s mother Brooke cannot recount the story of that day without tears and words of gratitude for Malarik and Perea-Quijano.

“When Emma first started struggling to breathe, there was a point that I thought she wasn’t going to make it,” said Brooke Ward. “But Tera and Anthony were an amazing team and quickly had the crisis under control. They are now a part of Emma’s forever story. Because of them, she will have another birthday; our family will have another Christmas together. We just cannot thank them enough.”

Perea-Quijano credits his academic and clinical training at UWF, and the hands-on, experiential knowledge gained through the partnership between the University and Andrews Institute for preparing him for situations like Ward’s.

“Tera and my UWF program director, Dr. Kelley Henderson, have brought out the very best in me as a healthcare professional,” Perea-Quijano said. “They deserve all of the recognition.”

Malarik said knowing Emma fully recovered and is able to progress into her future will always bring strong emotions.

“I am so proud of Emma for not being afraid to get back to her sport,” Malarik said. “I can’t wait to see all the things she accomplishes on and off the court.”

National Athletic Training Month is celebrated every year in March to bring awareness to the profession and recognize the expertise of athletic training professionals. Athletic trainers work with athletes of all levels to prevent injuries and illnesses; provide assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries; and return patients to their sports.

“I want everyone to know that athletic trainers save lives,” said Brooke Ward. “Because of the way UWF trains and prepares them for the profession, they can work anywhere and do anything. Tera and Anthony’s professionalism during Emma’s crisis and the outcome of their hard work is proof of that.”

UWF's Master of Science in Athletic Training program prepares students for successful careers in high school athletics, university athletics, professional sport teams, industry, medical clinics and other settings.

To learn more about UWF’s Athletic Training program, visit

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