The Importance of Implementing an Emergency Action Plan for Athletic Injuries

Athletic injuries are common, but is your school prepared for an athletic emergency?  Cuts and bruises can be expected as a result of intercollegiate and club sports, but certain types of athletic injuries and illnesses are severe enough to be considered emergencies.  It is critical that your school not only understands these injuries and illnesses, but also develops an Emergency Action Plan for when these issues arise. 

Athletic emergencies are defined as any injury or illness that threatens life or limb, including:

Traumatic Brain Injuries in particular have been garnering a lot of attention from the NCAA, NFL, NHL and other organizations lately.  These organizations are taking a hard look at the potential lasting damage caused by concussions.  Limiting the damage of Traumatic Brain Injuries starts immediately after the injury.  Coaches, officials, and medical staff must be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury immediately and work to the limit the damage right away. 

Other athletic emergencies can also result in severe and lasting consequences to athletes, such as paralysis and even death.  It is crucial for schools to establish clear guidelines regarding the types of athletic emergencies, the protocol to follow should an emergency occur, and appropriate yearly training to implement the Emergency Action Plan.   A well-defined and developed Emergency Action Plan should be simple and clear enough to be executed when needed and should not require consulting a manual in the event of a crisis.

We recommend that each school creates their own written Emergency Action Plan for any and all venues where students exercise, practice, and/or participate in a sport, including team sports, club sports, and general activities.  Us e the following steps to establish and implement an effective Emergency Action Plan:


1) Develop your plan in consultation with experts.

2) Identify key personnel and acknowledge their roles in the Emergency Action Plan.

3) Specify the necessary equipment.

4) Establish a communication system.

5) Keep it simple, transportable, and visible.

6) Practice annually.

Emergency Action Plans are extremely important for every college or university and can go a long way in limiting severe and lasting damage caused by athletic injuries.  If you have any questions about Emergency Action Plans or you would like to review a sample, please contact RCM&D’s Education Practice