Emergency Plan is Key to Safety of Sports Participants

NATA stresses organizations must rehearse plan, communications for each venue

DALLAS (Aug. 27, 2002) - It's no accident that most professional and university sports teams have medical personnel, emergency equipment and transportation on hand during sporting events. Members of the sports medicine team understand and accept the responsibility of providing emergency care and protecting their athletes from unusual but catastrophic injury. But do high schools, youth sports leagues, fitness centers and even junior colleges have similar emergency plans in place? “All coaches have a tremendous responsibility to make certain plans are in place to deal with any type of emergency,” says R.C. Slocum, head football coach at Texas A&M University. "Having a child’s safety in your hands is an awesome responsibility. We go into great detail in game plans. We must also make the same effort with regards to the participant’s well-being." The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) makes these recommendations to any organization or institution that sponsors athletic activities or events in its "Emergency Planning in Athletics" position statement:

  1. Each organization or institution that sponsors athletic activities must develop and implement a written emergency plan
  2. The plan should be developed by organizational or institutional personnel in consultation with local emergency medical services (EMS)
  3. Personnel should be trained in CPR and/or automated external defibrillator (AED), first aid and prevention of disease transmission
  4. Identify emergency equipment and its location
  5. Identify communication system and method
  6. Have a specific plan for each venue
  7. Identify personnel involved with execution of plan
  8. Identify who will document what happens during the emergency
  9. Rehearse plan annually

"We recognize that limb-threatening or life-threatening emergencies related to physical activity are unpredictable and generally effect a single person at a time," says Julie Max, MEd, ATC and president of NATA. "But as the U.S. population becomes more physically active, sports organizers are responsible for planning for unforeseen yet not totally unusual events. A structured, practiced emergency plan can mean the difference between life and death." For the complete position statement, visit www.nata.org/publications/otherpub/positionstatements.htm. Athletic training is recognized by the American Medical Association as an allied health care profession. Based in Dallas, the NATA is the voice for 30,000 member athletic trainers across the U.S. Its mission is to enhance the quality of health care for athletes and those engaged in physical activity, and to advance the profession of athletic training through education and research in the prevention, evaluation, management and rehabilitation of injuries. www.nata.org

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