NATA: What parents need to know about emergency action plans

Photo: Kirsten Fiscus/Advertiser

NATA: What parents need to know about emergency action plans

High School Sports

NATA: What parents need to know about emergency action plans


From pre-participation exams to managing season schedules, the to-do list for the average sports parent can be extensive. What may not be on the checklist, but should, is inquiring about your school’s emergency action plan. Every 25 seconds a child visits the emergency room for a sports related injury, so knowing that your school is prepared can provide additional peace of mind that your child is in safe hands.

What is an emergency action plan (EAP)?

An emergency action plan is a written venue-specific plan that outlines what to do and who to call in the case of an emergency — medical, weather-related, active-shooter or otherwise. More specifically, it describes the personnel involved and their roles in an emergency, the communication process, emergency equipment location, transportation guidelines, and response times, among other things. Your school may have more than one EAP.

Whether practicing or playing a home game or on the road, every team should be able to easily access their venue-specific EAP, which needs to be reviewed and maintained by a medical professional, such as an athletic trainer, as well as the school and any other institutions involved.

Why are EAPs important?

EAPs are critical to providing a quick, appropriate and coordinated response in the wake of an injury. Athletic trainers, EMTs, school administrators and coaches should all work together to practice what to do in case of an emergency at least once a year. This preparation ensures that everyone knows their role and correct actions in managing the situation.

What are the important components of the EAP?

  • Easy to Find – It should be posted and quickly accessible in the case of emergency.
  • Who is in charge – It should have the names and numbers of the people executing the plan along with their qualifications and role once the plan is activated.
  • Equipment needed – It should list the equipment needed to carry out the tasks required in the case of an emergency, along with the location where the equipment can be found.
  • Communication – It should have an emergency communication plan that identifies who to call in the case of an emergency and where easy access to a telephone can be found. This should also include a plan B in case the designated phone is not working.
  • Directions for Transportation – It should have specific directions on how to get emergency services to the activity venue. There should be a map included.
  • Where to Go – It should also list the emergency care facilitates where the injured person will be taken. Appropriate personnel at this location should also be included in the creation of the document.

Questions to ask when your sign up your child

  • Is there an emergency action plan? If so, where is it posted?
  • Will there be a medical professional, such as an athletic trainer, at all practices and games that will be in charge of activating the EAP if needed? If not, who in charge?
  • Has the emergency action plan been rehearsed by medical professionals and the local emergency medical service (EMS)? Has it been within the last year?

If the answer is “I don’t know” or “no,” then advocate for an EAP to be created and adopted ASAP. It’s critical that schools understand the critical role they play in providing appropriate care in the event of an emergency. Having a plan helps key members coordinate their roles, responsibilities, and information in a quick, appropriate and coordinated manner, a manner that could very well save a child’s life.

To learn more about sports safety guidelines that should be in place at your school, check out


More USA TODAY High School Sports