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Key Terms

Bloodborne pathogens


Emergency action plan

Emergency medical services

First responder

Legal need

Patient assessment

Sports medicine staff and emergency team


During the second half of a boy’s high school basketball game a player collapses on the court. Play is immediately stopped by the referee, and he goes to check on the player. The referee then yells for assistance from the athletic trainer covering the event. The athletic trainer runs onto the court to check on the unresponsive player. He checks all vitals and finds that the player is not breathing and has no pulse. At this point, what should the athletic trainer do to help the stricken player?


Emergency medical situations can occur in athletics at any time. When they do occur, it is important to have the proper emergency action plan (EAP) in place to provide the best possible care to the athletes with potentially life-threatening injuries or illness. The development and implementation of the EAP will help ensure that the quality of care provided to the athletes is the best possible. The goal of the sports medicine staff of any athletic organization is to have an EAP that will minimize the time needed to provide an immediate response to a potentially life-threatening situation or medical emergency.

Because medical emergencies can occur during any activity, the sports medicine staff must be prepared for any type of situation. Emergency care preparation includes the formation of an EAP, proper coverage of athletic events and practices, maintenance of emergency equipment and supplies, utilization of appropriate personnel involved with the sports medicine team, and the continuing education of the sports medicine team in emergency medical care (Box 1-1). Although every precaution may be taken by the athletic organization and its sports medicine staff, it is important to understand that medical emergencies may still occur. With proper organization and administration, however, these situations can be handled in a timely, effective, and professional manner.

Factors to consider in the proper organization and administration of emergency care in athletic activity include the following:

  1. Development and implementation of an EAP

  2. The sports medicine staff and emergency team

  3. Initial patient assessment and care

  4. Emergency communication

  5. Emergency equipment and supplies

  6. Venue locations

  7. Emergency transportation

  8. Emergency care facilities

  9. Legal need and documentation

Box 1-1 Components of Emergency Care Preparation

  • Development of an EAP

  • Proper coverage of athletic events and practices

  • Maintenance and upkeep of emergency equipment and supplies

  • Selection of appropriate personnel as part of the sports medicine team

  • Continuing education of the sports medicine team in emergency medical care

This chapter provides a framework for emergency care involving athletic trainers from an organizational and administrative perspective. ...

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