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The Creation of an Emergency Response Plan for Your Strength and Conditioning Program (Sponsored)

Does your facility have an emergency action plan? [Photo courtesy National Strength and Conditioning Association]
Does your facility have an emergency action plan? [Photo courtesy National Strength and Conditioning Association]

This content was provided by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). What is Sponsored Content

A strength and conditioning program led by certificated professionals is a vital component of successful athletes, ranging from scholastic to professional athletics. Strength and conditioning best practice is focused on reducing an athlete’s chance of injury while increasing performance. Certified Strength and Conditioning professionals minimize the risk of accidents through the proper teaching and supervision of technique in a controlled environment; however, there is always a chance for accidents to occur.  

The adoption of a written Emergency Response Plan is a great step in ensuring the safety of athletes and coaches. The plan should detail the proper procedures for caring for participants who incur injuries during strength and conditioning activities as well as general safety guidelines for adverse environmental situations or campus intruders. It is important to note that strength and conditioning commonly occurs during afternoon, evening or weekend hours when facilities may not be fully staffed. This is especially true at the scholastic level. Therefore, a key component of an effective Emergency Response Plan explicitly accounts for available resources during all operating hours.  

Your Emergency Response Plan should include, at a minimum:

  1. 1. Location of nearest AED, first-aid kit, and other emergency supplies;

  2. 2. Roles and responsibilities of coaching staff, medical staff, spectators, and others during injury evaluation/response, to ensure appropriate first response and medical evaluation;

  3. 3. Location of emergency forms on file for each participant;

  4. 4. Names and telephone numbers of primary, secondary, and tertiary individuals to contact (including parents of youth participants);

    1. a. Primary – 911, Campus 911, on-campus Athletic Training, Campus Police/SRO

    2. b. Secondary – Direct Reports (Principals, AD, etc.)

    3. c. Tertiary – Parents, Communication Services, Campus Maintenance 

  5. 5. Access to a physician and/or emergency medical facility when warranted; 

  6. 6. Communication and transportation between the venue and the medical facility; 

  7. 7. Ambulance access; 

  8. 8. Specific address of the strength and conditioning facility (Include door numberings and direct routes to facility to give directions to EMS);

    1. a. Sheltering and evacuation procedures by facility, including a map of facility with evacuation routes;

  9. 9. Outside and inside armed intruder procedures by facility;

  10. 10. Plan of action in case of fire, tornado, life-threatening injury, crime, terrorism, et cetera;

  11. 11. Locations of the telephones;

  12. 12. Locations of nearest exits.

Make the Most of Your Plan

An Emergency Response Plan can only save lives if it is implemented. Indeed, it may offer a false sense of security if it is not backed up with appropriate training and preparedness by qualified, professional staff. Therefore, all personnel in strength and conditioning facilities must:

Know the emergency response plan and the proper procedures for dealing with an emergency. Each stakeholder should be assigned specific roles during an emergency.  

Review and practice emergency policies and procedures regularly (e.g., at least quarterly).

Have direct lines of communication established with on-campus Athletic Training Department.

Maintain current certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillators (CPR-AED). First-Aid training and certification may also be necessary if Sports Medicine personnel such as an MD, PA, or ATC are not immediately available.

Adhere to universal precautions for preventing exposure to and transmission of bloodborne pathogens. Bloodborne and Airborne Pathogens Training by the National Safety Council may be necessary.

Sample Emergency Procedures Protocol*

Life-Threatening Situations

Environmental Situations

Non-Life-Threatening Situations

Step 1: Call 911.

Step 1: Activate the appropriate alarm and get everyone directed to a predetermined safe location.

Step 1: Provide first aid.

Step 2: Do not move victim.

Step 2: Call 911 for medical help if necessary.

Step 2: Call 911 for medical help if necessary.

Step 3: If victim is conscious, ask permission to administer first aid.

Step 3: Account for all parties and notify rescue personnel.

Step 3: Activate the emergency communication plan to notify appropriate parties.

Step 4: Administer CPR or AED if necessary.

Step 4: Activate the emergency communication plan to notify appropriate parties.

Step 4: Document incident on injury report.

Step 5: Stay with victim until help arrives.

Step 5: Document incident on injury report.


Step 6: Activate the emergency communication plan to notify appropriate parties.


Step 7: Document incident on injury report.


*Excerpted from NSCA’s Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 4th Ed.

Find more athlete safety resources for your strength and conditioning program on the NSCA web site at 

Visit booth #412 at the National Athletic Directors Conference, December 15-16, in National Harbor, MD to learn more about creating a safe environment for your strength and conditioning program.

About the Author

Gary McChalicher is Director of Athletics and Assistant Principal for Southeastern School District in Fawn Grove, PA. He is responsible for all components of the program serving 900 athletes and 80 staff for an athletic department serving grades 7-12. This includes hiring and evaluation of all staff, leadership and mentoring of all staff, and all scheduling and operations associated with each of the 25 athletic programs. This also encompasses compliance with PIAA and SESD student-athlete policies, evaluation and compliance with all legal and risk management concerns regarding facilities and student-athlete participation, development of relationships with community and business stakeholder groups, and complete control of a $1.2 million operating budget.

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