Review your Emergency Action Plan

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.

An Emergency Action Plan (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 (Emergency Medical Services), 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 they 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. Another guideline can be found here from USA Football.

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.

The absolute bare minimum supplies:
• Instant cold packs (have several of these!).
• Adhesive bandages of assorted shapes and sizes.
• Blister care.
• ACE bandages (3-inch and 4-inch sizes).
• Disposable non-latex gloves (use when you are looking at a cut or abrasion).
• Alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer (for your own hands).
• Antibiotic ointment (individual packets or a tube of Bacitracin works well).
• Sterile gauze bandages.
• Sterile gauze roll.
• Sterile saline bottle (to gently wash dirt or grass from a cut).
• Saline rinse bottle and Hibiclens bottle (very effective and not painful to clean an abrasion or cut).
• Athletic tape (1-inch and 2-inch sizes).
• Paramedic scissors.
• Hydrogen peroxide -- to get blood off a uniform.
• Plastic bags to dispose of used gauze, etc.

Here are a few extras that are nice to have:
• Foam underwrap.
• Finger splints (popsicle sticks work well).
• CPR instructions and plastic ventilation mask.
• Watertight bags to keep items dry.

(Dr. Dev K. Mishra, a Clinical Assistant Professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University, is the creator of the online injury-recognition course, now a requirement for US Club Soccer coaches and staff members. Mishra writes about injury management at Blog, where this article first appeared.)

2 comments about "Review your Emergency Action Plan".
  1. James Madison, July 27, 2017 at 7:16 p.m.

    Excellent list of contents for first aid kid, but I add (a) natural ice,(b) one or more zip-lock bags and (c) ace bandage wraps for application of ice packs to suspected sprains. I also learned from a trainer to freeze water in plastic cups and take those along for players to use in massaging bruises with ice.

  2. Bill Dooley, July 27, 2017 at 10:11 p.m.

    The Keeper-of-the-Player-Passes also keeps a set of med history / insurance info forms.

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