Many coaches find it difficult to come up with a complete risk management plan for their team. For some it may be that they don't understand the importance of one or not feel it is their responsibility, for others it is not knowing where to start or what all comprises of a complete plan. As a coach you are the decision maker for your team, you need to make safety and risk management a priority as it can be the difference between success and failure or life and death.
Risk management is an ongoing process that must begin prior to the season beginning and does not end until after the season is over.
So what all does a coach need to do? We will discuss the basics of a risk management program for sport teams.
Emergency Action Plan (EAP) - the EAP is designed to make sure all the proper steps are taken when an injury occurs and that specific people have a designated roles/jobs so that all are prepared. Basic EAPs consist of 3 roles, the charge person who is attending to the injured athlete, the call person who contacts EMS and the control person who maintains order among the crowd, opposing team and liaises with the facility.
Have First Aid and CPR - it is all great that you have an EAP but if you don't have basic injury management skills such as first aid and CPR, what are you going to do if something occurs? You can not rely on always having a trainer, athletic therapist on your staff or that each year you will have parents who are doctors, nurses or paramedics. These are added bonuses not sure things.
Take an Injury Management Seminar - First aid and CPR only get you so far in the world of sports. You need to understand the types of injuries that will occur in sports and how to apply the knowledge you gained in first aid and CPR to those situations. A good seminar will not only discuss sports injuries but go in-depth on risk management, injury prevention and return to activity.
Carry a First Aid Kit - each team should carry an individualized first aid kit for their sport and the knowledge of those who will be using it. Sports require more than just few pieces of gauze and band-aids but unless you are trained to do so you don't need a stitch kit.
Do Risk Assessments - at practices and games. Know what the areas of risk are in your sport and at each facility you are at. By doing so you can implement prevention strategies and be more prepared for situations that are specific to each activity.
By no means is this a complete list of everything that comprises a risk management program. After each practice, game or competition you will tweek your plan based on what occurred. Rely on past experiences as well to help form your full plan. Risk management is about creating a safe environment for your athletes, your staff as well as the other team and spectators. Though when you first start working on your plan it is a lot of work, the benefits pay off throughout the seasons. When injuries do occur, because you were prepared they will take less energy and focus at that time than if you did not have an effective risk management plan.