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AETN's '108°: Critical Response' to premiere with live special July 21

Posted 08 Jul 2014

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) will premiere "108°: Critical Response," a film addressing the dangers of heat illness in high school sports, Monday, July 21, at 7 p.m. This special two-hour live event will include a panel of experts and a phone bank to take viewer questions.

Through personal testimonies from families who have been affected by exertional heat stroke and interviews with coaches, certified athletic trainers, kinesiologists, and other medical professionals, "108°: Critical Response" looks at the seriousness of heat illness and its underlying causes, as well as how to treat and prevent exertional heat illness.

"The information contained in this film is potentially lifesaving," AETN Executive Director Allen Weatherly said. "'108°: Critical Response' is important viewing for coaches, players, parents and anyone else who is involved in activities in high temperature environments.

"It's important for parents so they can properly prepare their kids for practice and games in the heat. It's important for coaches so they can understand just how deadly heat illness can be and how quickly it can happen. Viewers will learn the signs and symptoms of heat illness, how to treat it, and how to prevent it altogether."

Featured in the film are three young victims of heat illness, only one of whom survived. Kendrick Fincher of Rogers and Tyler Davenport of Lamar died of heat stroke while practicing football in the summer months, while Will James of Little Rock received treatment and survived. Parents Rhonda Fincher, Mark and Tina Davenport, and Patti James all appear in the documentary.

"If you're going to have your children involved in sports – and I'm not talking just football; I'm talking soccer, baseball, cheer, band – you have them involved with something where they're going to be outdoors in the heat," Pattie James said. "You need to make certain you give them the best base to go out there."

AETN produced "108°: Critical Response" in response to Act 1214 of 2011. Sen. Keith Ingram, formerly a representative, of West Memphis and Rep. Mark Perry of Jacksonville sponsored the bill, and the Davenport family was instrumental in getting it passed. The act requires coaches to complete training in heat illness.

"The main idea of heat illness education is to find a way to impact everyone involved with that student athlete, from themselves, to peers and coaches, parents and the medical community," Joey Walters, deputy director of the Arkansas Activities Association, said.

Experts interviewed include: Brendon McDermott, professor of kinesiology, University of Arkansas; Dean Weber, former head athletic trainer, University of Arkansas; Michele Moss, ICU physician, Arkansas Children's Hospital; Todd Ross, certified athletic trainer, OrthoSurgeons/Pulaski Academy in Little Rock; Kevin Kelley, head football coach, Pulaski Academy; Perry Escalante, head football coach, Heritage High School in Rogers; Doug Blevins, band director, Heritage High School; and Walters.

"It's a privilege to be here and coach those kids," Escalante said. "Parents are giving us complete trust with their children, and it's our duty to make sure they get a child home that's not been damaged."

Filming of "108°: Critical Response" took place at Rogers High School, Heritage High School, Pulaski Academy, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Central Arkansas where students participated in a recreation of heat illness scenarios. The film was produced by Carlos Rodríguez and Amy Waller of AETN.

Additional information, including a toolkit for managing heat illness, is available at

"108°: Critical Response" will be available for online professional development credit for Arkansas state licensed educators via the ArkansasIDEAS portal (

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit, or follow the AETN blog at AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).