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General Guidelines For Developing Emergency Action Plans

Daryl A. Rosenbaum, MD

The sport of soccer is relatively safe and promotes health through exercise. Medical emergencies can still occur, however, and the chances go up anytime a group of people – players, coaches, officials, parents, grandparents, etc. - gathers together for an event. This is why all athletic organizations, from professional to pee-wee, should develop an Emergency Action Plan. The following are general guidelines to assist with the creation of a plan for your group. For additional information see the companion article “Condition-Specific Considerations When Developing Emergency Action Plans”.

  1. Establish Roles – adapt to specific team/venue, may be best to have more than one person assigned to each role in case of absence/turnover
    • Immediate care of the athlete
      • Ideally a health care provider such as a physician, nurse, athletic trainer (identify and enlist parents from these professions at the start of each season for example if one is not assigned to your team) but could also be anyone trained in basic life support/first aid.
    • Activation of Emergency Medical System
      • Anyone cool under pressure
    • Emergency equipment retrieval
      • Could be coach, administrator, anyone
    • Direction of EMS to scene
      • Could be administrator, coach, parent, anyone
  2. Communication
    • Primary method
      • May be fixed (landline) or mobile (cellular phone, radio)
    • Back-up method
      • Often a landline
    • Test prior to event
      • Cell phone/radio reception can vary, batteries charged, landline working
      • Make sure communication methods are accessible (identify and post location, are there locks or other barriers?, change available for pay-phone)
    • Activation of EMS
      • Identify contact numbers (911, ambulance, police, fire, hospital, poison control, suicide hotline)
      • Prepare script (caller name/location/phone number, nature of emergency, number of victims and their condition, what treatment initiated, specific directions to scene)
      • Post both of the above near communication devices, other visible locations in venue, and circulate to appropriate personnel
    • Athlete emergency information
      • Critical medical information (conditions, medications, allergies)
      • Emergency contact information (parent / guardian)
      • Accessible (keep with athletic trainer or coach for example)
  3. Emergency Equipment
    • e.g. Automated External Defibrillators, bag-valve mask, spine board, splints, athlete medications
    • Personnel trained in advance on proper use
    • Must be accessible (identify and post location, within acceptable distance for each venue, are there locks or other barriers?)
    • Proper condition and maintenance
      • document inspection (log book)
  4. Emergency Transportation
    • Ambulance on site for high risk or large events (understand there is a difference between basic life support and advanced life support vehicles / personnel)
      • Designated location
      • Clear route for exiting venue
    • When ambulance not on site
      • Entrance to venue clearly marked and accessible
      • Identify parking/loading point and confirm area is clear
    • Coordinate ahead of time with local emergency medical services
  5. Additional considerations
    • Must be venue specific (one for each field, facility)
    • Put plan in writing
    • Involve all appropriate personnel (administrators, coaches, health care professionals, EMS)
      • Development
      • Approval with signatures
    • Post the plan in visible areas of each venue and distribute
    • Review plan at least annually
    • Rehearse plan at least annually
    • Document
      • Events of emergency situation
      • Evaluation of response
      • Rehearsal, training, equipment maintenance


Andersen JC, Courson RW, Kleiner DM, McLoda TA. National Athletic Trainers’ Association
Position Statement: Emergency Planning in Athletics. J Athl Train 2002;37(1):99–104