Children's Hospital Colorado

Emergency Action Plans for School Sports Coaches

Looking up at a team in white shirts huddled together.

Here we are in the full swing of fall sports. Coaches, athletic trainers, and athletes are participating in a wide variety of sports in a wider variety of settings.

Coaches, you are preparing your game plans and play books, scheduling games and practices at venues across town, but have you taken into consideration what you need to do when an ambulance needs to be called? How about when inclement weather encroaches on your softball field or high school football stadium?

Emergency Action Plan document for every venue

An Emergency Action Plan is a document that will help everyone on your sideline know when to take action and what actions are required. It includes everything from where shelter is when lightning is in the area to who has the key to unlock the gym door for emergency personnel. There should be a separate document for each venue.

If your child plays a sport for their school, this kind of document probably already exists. (If not, I would bring this to the attention of your schools coaching staff.) Having a document like this on hand is definitely a good start, but reading it and knowing what it says are actually more important. Make sure your young athlete has been given the chance to learn this information, too.

For the coaches and athletic trainers out there, hopefully you have put something like this in place. If not I would start by checking out this link at the National Center for Sports Safety. It has a simple layout of things to cover.

I would also recommend tracking down the fire station and ambulance services responsible for the areas you will be playing at to discuss what you would expect of them. For instance:

  • Have they come to the venue before?
  • What door is easiest for them to use?
  • Which parking lot will be available for easy access?
  • Can they drive right out onto the field?

It is always a good idea to regroup-coaches, parents, athletes alike-and discuss what happened during the last emergency situation but the conversation will be a lot more positive if you have taken the time to discuss what needs to happen before the emergency occurs.

Read more articles for coaches of young athletes.

Written by: Ben Locke, ATC, Athletic Trainer, Sports Medicine for Young Athletes, Children’s Hospital Colorado.

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