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©William E. Prentice


When you finish this chapter you will be able to:

  • Establish a plan for handling emergency situations at your institution.

  • Determine the components of an emergency action plan (EAP).

  • Explain the importance of knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

  • Describe techniques for control of hemorrhage.

  • Assess the types of shock and their management.

  • Describe the various phases of injury assessment.

  • Explain the importance of controlling swelling during initial injury management.

  • Describe techniques for moving and transporting the injured athlete.

An emergency is defined as "an unforeseen combination of circumstances and the resulting state that calls for immediate action." Certainly, most sports injuries do not result in life-or-death emergency situations, but when such situations do arise, prompt care is essential.11 Time becomes the critical factor, and assistance to the injured athlete must be based on knowledge of what to do and how to do it—how to perform effective first aid immediately.9 There is no room for uncertainty, indecision, or error. A mistake in the initial management of injury can prolong the time required for rehabilitation and can potentially create a life-threatening situation for the athlete.10 Therefore it is critical to be well prepared to handle whatever emergency situation may arise.5

Time becomes critical in an emergency situation.

It must be reemphasized that all fitness professionals, coaches, and others in areas related to exercise and sports science should be trained and certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), and first aid.19 However, these individuals are limited beyond providing initial CPR/AED and first aid. The extent of what they can and cannot do legally is determined by the laws and statutes of different states.11 Much of the information contained in this chapter is intended for informational purposes only and is in no way meant to encourage individuals to act outside of the scope of their responsibilities.


The prime concern of emergency aid is to maintain cardiovascular function and, indirectly, central nervous system function, because failure of any of these systems may lead to death.9,10 The key to emergency aid in the sports setting is the initial evaluation of the injured athlete. Time is of the essence, so this evaluation must be done rapidly and accurately so that proper aid can be rendered without delay. In some instances, these first steps not only will be lifesaving but also may determine the degree and extent of permanent disability.

As discussed in Chapter 1, the sports medicine team—the coach, the athletic trainer, and the team physician—must at all times act reasonably and prudently. This behavior is especially important during emergencies.

All sports programs must have a prearranged emergency action plan (EAP) developed in ...

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