Athletic trainers have to be knowledgeable about a wide variety of medical conditions, from simple cuts and bruises to serious concussions and dislocations. Knowing how to handle these situations and keep young athletes safe is what makes a skilled athletic trainer a valuable asset to any sports team. At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we know not all sports teams have an athletic trainer—which is why it’s important that all coaches also have basic knowledge of how to react in emergency situations during any sporting activity.
In Georgia, thousands of young athletes participate in athletic activities and events each year. While most injuries that occur in athletics are relatively minor, life- and limb-threatening injuries are unpredictable and can occur without warning during any physical activity, at any level of participation. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) recommends that organizations and institutions that sponsor athletic activities or events develop and implement a written emergency plan. These plans should include identification of the personnel involved, specification of equipment needed to respond to an emergency and establishment of a communication system to summon emergency care.
The information below provides a summary of the expertise our athletic trainers bring with them to the field.
Coaches and trainers should be prepared for any emergency situation when overseeing a sporting event, whether it’s conditioning, practice or a game.
As an athletic trainer or coach, you need to be ready for a variety of situations. Having the proper materials in your kit is the first step. As you gain more experience, you will be able to fine-tune what you include, but here is a good starting point:
A crucial step in preparing for any emergency event is having an efficient communication plan in place. Below you’ll find standard protocol to follow in an emergency situation.
- Call 911 and give the following information:
- Physical address—give your exact location, including the street address, not just the facility name
- Specific location (e.g., gym, soccer field behind clock tower)
- Intersections or landmarks to help identify your location
- Number of injured athletes
- Type of injury or emergency
- First aid or treatment given to injured athlete
- Cause of injury (e.g., fall, hit by object)
- Specific directions to scene, including any construction that could delay arrival
- Stay on the phone with 911 dispatcher:
- Give the operator the number of the phone you’re using in case you’re disconnected
- Designate someone to meet first responders.
- Remain with the athlete until help arrives.
- Communicate with parents.
- Designate someone to notify additional contacts, which may include:
- Public relations director
- Other coaches
- Athletic director
- School principal
- First responders
- Others, such as a school nurse, team parent or recreation center director
Helpful Resources for Your Team
Our Sports Medicine Program offers comprehensive medical and orthopedic services to student athletes. It is one of only a few multidisciplinary programs in the country dedicated to the well-being of young athletes. Whether the athlete is at the elite, high school or middle school level, our staff can provide individualized assessments based on maturity, skill level and performance goals.
We have more than 30 certified athletic trainers on staff, all of whom are licensed by the state of Georgia and certified through the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Our athletic trainers provide medical coverage to more than 40 high schools and club sports organizations across metro Atlanta. Medical coverage includes:
- Injury prevention education on the field and in the training room
- Emergent care, including recommendations for triage
- First aid for injuries, including taping and bracing of athletes
- Assessment of injuries and recommendations for treatment
- Concussion management
- Documentation of services provided to athletes
Children’s also provides sports-related in-services and education, such as coach and student athletic trainer workshops, to coaches, school administrators, parents/guardians and students.
To learn more about the importance of working with an athletic trainer or for more information on how our team can partner with your school, contact Lindsey Ream, Manager of Sports Medicine Athletic Training and Community Outreach at Children's.
This content was developed by the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center and Sports Medicine Program, and reviewed by Ron Courson, ATC, PT, NRAEMT, CSCS, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine at the University of Georgia Athletic Association.
This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.