A Plan For Action

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / ivelinradkov

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / ivelinradkov

While there are many benefits, professionals in the recreation and sport field today must be aware of the various risks as well as the liability involved. Despite the best risk-management practices and preventive efforts, it is safe to assume that emergencies and injuries can and will happen. Developing and implementing an effective Emergency-Response Plan (ERP) should be the first step in the process.

A team consisting of three or four key people, including those from all levels (not just management) with varying experiences related to emergency situations, is responsible for all phases of planning. The same group should also regularly review and update the plan. A simple method involves developing, implementing, and managing the plan.

Develop The Plan

With a team in place, begin by researching and assessing the types of emergencies that might occur. First, complete a comprehensive review of all incident (or accident) reports on file. They should be categorized by severity and then reviewed for trends and issues that need to be addressed in the ERP. All litigation at the facility and similar facilities must also be examined. The organization’s legal counsel and insurance representatives should be invited to review this information too, as they may be defending a potential lawsuit. Second, ask colleagues and experts at other facilities what types of incidents they have experienced. The list should include:

  • Major medical events (drowning, cardiac arrest, spinal injury, unconsciousness)
  • Minor medical maladies (soft-tissue injury, uncomplicated muscular/skeletal injury, illness)
  • Facility evacuations (fire, bomb threat, chemical leak/spill)
  • Missing child
  • Physical assault/fight
  • Any others deemed necessary.

Every incident and the circumstances surrounding it are unique, and it is simply not possible to plan for every emergency. Instead, focus on creating guidelines using generic categories, and allow staff members to rely on their extensive training to channel appropriate actions. In evaluating each emergency, consider:

  • What needs to be done?
  • Who should be responsible for what?

Outline the roles and responsibilities of each position, and assign a specific job to perform during and after an emergency. Make sure that each person has the proper training and appropriate skills.

  • Designate an “incident commander” or “person in charge” to coordinate the overall response. This is typically the role of the manager on duty, such as a building supervisor.
  • Clearly define a “call person” who will notify local emergency services, meet them at the entrance, and direct them to the patient. This can be a desk attendant or facility guest.
  • Ensure that someone is responsible for “crowd control” to keep people away from the scene.

Even with proper training for staff, emergencies are sometimes chaotic. In most large-scale events, two of the most critical issues often cited in “after-action reviews” are a difficulty in communicating and a loss of accountability. It is imperative that recreation professionals make sure their plans:

  • Establish communication procedures. This may include the use of two-way radios, a public-address system, phones, whistles, hand signals, etc.
  • Create an evacuation place specific to the facility. Make sure the area will accommodate the user group, and will not interfere with the efforts of emergency responders.

Be sure the plan does not overlook follow-up tasks:

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Related posts:

  1. The Incident Command System
  2. Sound The Alarm
  3. Perfect Your Loss-Prevention Program
  4. From The Top Down
  5. Where To Start
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