Safety items parents should look for in a high school athletic program
Emergency plans include a pre-established, well thought out plan of action that is implemented in the event of an emergency situation. Items should include, but are not limited to:
Who will provide emergency first aid? Who and how will Emergency Medical Services (EMS) be summoned? Who will monitor non injured members of the team during the emergency? How will parents be notified in the event of an emergency? Does the school monitor the availability of medically prescribed personal emergency medication? Is there an adequate communication system in place at all athletic practices and contests?
Is documentation with emergency phone numbers and a list of each student’s medical conditions readily available at all practices and games?
Full-Time on Site Qualified BOC Certified Athletic Trainer?
There should be a qualified allied health care provider available to student athletes at the school on a daily basis. A qualified health care provider is educated in the prevention, immediate care, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. The IDEAL choice would be an athletic trainer, per recommendations of the AMA. Schools with large athletic programs should employ additional qualified athletic health care providers.
Team Physician/Consulting Physician
There should be a medical physician affiliated with the school who is well versed in sports medicine. The athletic health care provider in the school should established communication with the team physician.
Pre-participation Physical Evaluation for All Athletes Annually
A qualified medical physician should perform an annual physical evaluation prior to athletic participation. This document should be reviewed by the school based athletic health care provider, who would bring to the attention of the coaching staff, any student athlete participating with a medical alert (such as asthma, diabetes, etc.). Guidelines should be established for athletes with medical alerts to insure that emergency life sustaining medications such as bronchial inhalers for asthma and Epi-Pen for anaphylaxis, are readily available and administered properly when needed. Any genetic cardiac risk factors should be identified and reviewed by a medical physician prior to participation.
Inclement Weather Protocol/Guidelines
Guidelines regarding inclement weather, such as lightning storms and extreme heat, should be established well in advance of the athletic season. All athletic participants and spectators should follow the guidelines that have been established. Adequate methods for re-hydration should be available in all sports at all times with athlete education on proper hydration provided on regular basis.
The coaching staff should be required to participate in ongoing education in coaching techniques, CPR, and first aid.
"Return to Participation Following Injury" Protocol
The person responsible, within a school system, for making the decision to return an injured athlete back to sports participation needs to be addressed. A protocol needs to be established with the qualified athletic health care provider identified as an integral part of the decision making. Process. Communication between athlete, coach, parent, team physician, family physician, certified athletic trainer and others regarding the status of the athlete’s injury.
Field/Facility Maintenance Plan
There should be a mechanism in place to ensure facilities and fields are properly cared for, inspected on a regular schedule, and repaired in a timely manner.
The equipment that the school provides should be safe, properly fitted, in good repair, and inspected on a regular schedule. All equipment inspections, repairs, and reconditioning should be documented. Equipment that is damaged, in ill repair or dangerous should be discarded or secured out of harms way.
Provision of supervised pre-season, in-season and out-of-season conditioning programs should be available to ALL student athletes. A person who is educated in the conditioning of the adolescent athlete should design and monitor these programs utilizing up-to-date, scientifically sound advice.