YOU NEED AN EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D., President, Sideline Sports Doc, Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University

Key Points:

  • An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a key document that outlines the specific steps taken by a Club, Tournament Director, High School, or individual team in case of a serious health or environmental emergency.
  • Be sure to develop and practice your EAP before the season

paramedicsToday I’d like to write briefly about an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). The EAP is a written set of systems and processes that are followed if a serious health or environmental condition occurs. By having a plan and rehearsing it ahead of the season it gives an organization the best possible chance that appropriate steps are taken to address the situation. This is an area that is often neglected, even at the high school level where state laws might require that schools have and rehearse a plan. When something happens, you absolutely don’t want to be panicking thinking of “what do we do now” scenarios.

The Club Or Recreational Team

I wouldn’t expect a club or rec team to have a formal written plan, but there are three things that come to mind that will really help you a lot.

  • Have a first aid kit! This is a simple thing and I find that it’s rare that teams actually have basic first aid supplies.
  • If you travel to an away game or tournament, enter the local emergency service number ahead of time into your mobile. This would be a good thing for a team manager to do. The local number will often be faster than calling 911.
  • Coaches and managers should be trained in basic injury recognition.

Club Directors and Tournament Organizers

Requirements for tournament organizers will vary a bit by state and your national governing body for sport, as will the requirements for individual clubs. Here are some key elements you’ll want to include in your EAP:

  • Key personnel. Describe the emergency team involved when the EAP is activated and the roles of each person.
  • How to communicate. What communication devices are available? Are there areas on the ground that don’t have cell service? What number do you call in an emergency? What specific information and directions to the venue must be provided to the EMS response team?
  • Emergency equipment. I strongly recommend you have an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) at your main fields or sports complex. The location of equipment should be quickly accessible and clearly listed. Equipment needs to be maintained on a regular basis.
  • Who to call for Emergency Transport. Describe the options and estimated response times for emergency transportation.
  • Venue directions with a map. This must be specific to each location and provide instructions for easy access to the venue.Entryways for emergency vehicles must be unlocked during tournaments or regular practices! Don’t be searching for keys (or the person who has them) during an emergency!
  • Roles of first responders. Establish scene safety and immediate care of the athlete, activation of EMS, equipment retrieval and direction of EMS to the scene

How to Get An EAP

Most national governing bodies for sports have guidelines on the types of elements theySideLineSportsDoc recommend that you include in an EAP. I’d start with them, but unfortunately I find that most of them are lacking in specific steps you should take. However, I think you’ll find that this template from the National Alliance For Youth Sports is a very good starting point. It contains the key elements, and can be modified for your particular situation.