The Visiting Team

December 20, 2017 by Beth Sitzler

By Chase Paulson, MS, ATC

Are you prepared to be a good host? No, I’m not talking about finger foods or beverages, but rather being prepared for when visitors arrive to your field or stadium with a mutual understanding of what is to come when the whistle blows. It is essential for the secondary school athletic trainer to communicate properly the nuances of their home site to any visitor to ensure a collaborative effort if, and when, emergencies arise.

An AT is always prepared for the worst when on the job. It is how we were trained and what is engrained in our being. You may have everything dialed in when arriving to your home field, court or stadium – but what about the team across the way, are they equipped with the proper knowledge of how you and your school’s athletic staff manage an event?

If your visitors travel with an AT, it is good manners to be in contact with that individual ahead of time to discuss some common, non-health care items such as:

  • Parking for vehicles, trailers or buses
  • Drop-off and loading zones for supplies and equipment
  • Security lists for access to the field or buildings
  • Transporting of supplies to the sideline
  • Water availability and access

As the host AT you should consider taking a medical “time out” prior to each event to discuss the emergency action plan for the current venue. NATA provides an official statement on “time outs” to assist in facilitating communication for each member of the health care team. This should also include the visiting AT their staff. Some topics to include are:

  • Who is present and what is their role in the EAP (AT, EMS, physician, etc.)?
  • Will EMS be onsite or will 911 be dialed?
  • In the event of transport, what is the designated hospital?
  • What emergency supplies are available for use, and where are they located?
  • Who is the point person from the home staff to communicate questions or concerns?

Now we may all think this is common practice, however, what should the host AT do if there is no AT across the field or court? How does your preparation change when you are the sole provider? Too often one may find themselves providing care on their own to both teams, be it a lower-level contest or smaller team or school that does not have an athletic trainer. What, then, should the host AT do in preparation?

Communication is the most necessary tool. Before the day of the event, the AT should utilize their athletic director to identify who will be the point person for the visiting team. Often times the head coach may designate another individual to represent these items for their team.

If there is no AT across the field or court, the host should make every effort to meet that individual and introduce themselves as the athletic trainer providing services. A similar “time out” should be held with that individual with the key difference revolving around an injury to a visiting athlete. The emphasis and understanding surrounding caring for a visiting athlete should be discussed. If you have questions regarding consent to treat or medical authorization, check with your school district HR or employer, as well as state laws, to ensure you are protected.