Sports Emergency Plans – More than just reacting

We’ve all watched major sporting events and often witnessed incidents that result in injuries we’d rather forget. Fortunately in most cases these events are supported by medical personnel such as doctors, physiotherapists and sports trainers to ensure that players are given the best possible care.

On the surface the response of medical personnel appears a fairly simple and seamless reaction to what is often a very serious and sometimes career threatening injury. However, in reality the response is provided following a well documented, drilled and executed emergency procedure involving many more people than just the medical personnel seen attending the incident.

This may be fine at the elite levels of sport where there are specific medical personnel, team managers and other club and team officials to ensure injured players are cared for suitably. However, these incidents are not restricted to elite activities and in most local team circumstances the coach and other volunteers may be expected to fulfil the roles responsible for initial care.

If you’d like some information on how many people were hospitalised in Australia in a year due to sports injuries, you can read more here.

Would you know what to do in an emergency such as this? Is there a clear and understood process to ensure that all coaches, officials and volunteers are aware of their role in an emergency?

A comprehensive emergency plan should be in place to cover all types of emergency. They may include incidents such as fire, violence and environmental threats. All sporting clubs have a responsibility to ensure a safe environment is available to those in their care. This includes having a clearly documented plan that outlines the actions and processes that need to be fulfilled in an emergency situation.

Injured soccer player put on a stretcher

Typical Emergency Plan

A typical Emergency Plan may include reference to items such as:

  • The processes and the actions required of key personnel in the advent of an emergency.
  • The location of the nearest phone and a list of telephone numbers for ambulance, local hospital or local health professional.
  • The address details of the venue at which the event is being held and in particular any special directions that need to be conveyed to emergency response personnel.
  • Someone should be designated to take the lead responsibility in the plan.
  • The location of any first aid and emergency equipment if required.
  • Contact details for parents, legal guardians or next of kin.
  • Incident report forms and associated processes.
  • It is important that all personnel are aware of their role and required actions in the emergency plan. Emergency plans should be documented and be communicated to all club members and participants. These plans should be updated and rehearsed regularly for reinforcement of actions.

Though these incidents may not occur often, a sound, communicated and well understood emergency plan may mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

And if you’d like to know more about dealing with sporting injuries in general, please see here.