Sports Medicine Emergency Personnel Roles

As athletic injuries occur at any time and during any activity, the Sports Medicine Team must be prepared because emergency situations may arise anytime during these athletic events. During a typical athletic practice or competition, the first responder to an emergency is typically a member of the Sports Medicine Staff, most commonly a Certified Athletic Trainer (also known as ATC) or a Graduate Assistant or any assigned individual who has at least a first aid certification. A team physician may not always be present at every organized practice or competition. The type and degree of sports medicine coverage for an athletic event may vary widely based on such factors as the sport or activity, the setting, the type of training or the competition. The first responder in some situations may be a coach or other institutional personnel.

The development of an emergency action plan cannot be complete without the formation of an emergency team. The emergency team may consist of a number of healthcare providers including physicians, emergency medical technicians, certified athletic trainers (ATC), graduate student athletic trainers, student athletic trainers, coaches, managers, and possibly bystanders. Roles of these persons within the emergency team may vary depending on various factors such as the number of members of the team, the athletic venue itself, or the preference of the Head Athletic Trainer. There are four basic roles within the emergency medical team and these are the following.

The first and most important role is establishing safety of the scene and immediate care of the athlete. Acute care or immediate care should be provided by the most qualified individual on the scene. Individuals with lower credentials should yield to

those with more appropriate training.

Secondly, Emergency Medical System, also known as EMS, activation may be necessary in situations where emergency transportation is not already present at the sporting event. This should be done as soon as the situation is deemed an emergency or a life-threatening event. Time is the most critical factor under emergency conditions. Activating the EMS system may be done by anyone on the team. However, the person chosen for this duty should be someone who is calm under pressure and who communicates well over the telephone. This person should also be familiar with the location and address of the sporting event.

The third role is equipment retrieval. It may be done by anyone on the emergency team who is familiar with the types and locations of the specific equipment needed. Graduate student athletic trainers, student athletic trainers, managers, and coaches are good choices for this role.

And lastly, directing Emergency Medical System (EMS) to the scene is the fourth role. One member of the team should be responsible for meeting emergency medical personnel as they arrive at the site of the emergency. Depending on the ease of access, this person should have keys to any locked gates or doors that may slow the arrival of the medical personnel. A student athletic trainer, manager, or coach may be appropriate for this role.


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