Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Youth Sport Safety: 5 Questions Every Parent Should Ask


An emergency action plan, often referred to as an EAP, is a written document that clearly delineates what steps should be followed in an emergency situation.  Specific contents of an EAP should include:  1) available personnel and their roles, 2) available equipment (AEDs, splints, spineboards, etc.), and 3) be specific to the venue and/or activity.  Additionally, the plan should be practiced regularly (minimally this is typically defined as annually) and reviewed to be sure the procedures are specific to current best practice for the care of injuries and illnesses.  For more information on the specifics of developing an EAP you can start with National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Emergency Planning in Athletics.  While its focus is college athletics, it can be a great starting point for any organization looking to develop or update their EAP.

While many colleges are required to have an established EAP via NCAA guidelines, this may or may not be true for your school district or sports league.  Getting a copy of your school’s or league’s EAP is a great place to start in understanding the kind of care your son or daughter would receive while participating in sports should an emergency arise.  It will give you insight into the level of planning the organization has taken, what type of emergency training coaches and other staff have, who will be available and when, and what sort of equipment is available to help in an emergency. 

Some EAPs will be broader in scope and list the basic steps necessary to follow in an emergency, but others may be have several specific components that address specific injuries and situations.  Specific situations or injuries addressed may include a sudden cardiac trauma, asthma attack, heat illness, head/neck injuries and concussions.  The more specific an EAP can be, the more effective it will be should it need to be initiated.

A note on concussions:  A majority of states has enacted legislation that requires a specific concussion evaluation and treatment policy is in place.  This legislation often times also requires education of parents and key staff to recognize concussions.  Be sure when asking about the EAP that you inquire about your organization’s concussion policy.  Even if state legislation doesn't mandate a policy in your state, your organization's governing body may have a policy requirement.  

To learn whether your state has passed concussion legislation click HERE.

To review the National Federation of State High Association's position statement on concussions click HERE.

QUESTION #2:  Is there an athletic trainer available?... will be addressed in the next post.

Submitted by: Heather L. Clemons, MS, MBA, ATC

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