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An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a vital component in ensuring the safety of clients and employees during emergency situations. Though it is hoped that these plans never need to be implemented, preparation is key in order for the EAP to be implemented effectively and efficiently.
EAPs save lives and they extend beyond just traditional facility evacuation routes. They provide detailed procedures on how to respond to specific types of emergencies. Situations that might warrant unique EAPs are heat illness, spinal injury, seizures, fractures, head injuries, diabetic emergencies, allergic reactions and cardiac arrest. Each situation must be handled differently, but with the same efficiency. Time is always critical and those responding must be emotionally stable, confident and in control of their actions and verbal responses.
Establishing the clear delineation of roles is an integral component for an EAP to run smoothly. For example, in the scenario of a client going into cardiac arrest, one employee must tend to the client and administer CPR, while another team member contacts 911 and conveys vital information. As this is occurring, a third employee should be retrieving and bringing the automated external defibrillator (AED) to the rescuer. Time is always of the essence, and an AED increases the survival rate of cardiac arrest patients sevenfold. There are other responsibilities too, like securing the area to ensure client privacy and meeting paramedics outside to guide them quickly and safely into the facility.
Monthly practices are suggested in order to verify that all employees understand their exact roles within the procedures, because they could become any part of the chain of command depending on the situation. These practice sessions should be done in real-time. And it’s strongly suggested that your sessions include alerting EMS response teams so they are familiar with the procedures, as well as the entrance and exit routes of your facility.
Your EAP should always be readily available to every employee, so that they’re prepared to follow it and take proper actions that can save lives during an emergency. Include flow charts that use simple bullet points and statements that quickly and clearly identify each role. This will help simplify the emergency response, limit confusion and aid personnel in following the correct procedures. Place the EAP in high-traffic, visible areas so that they’re prominently displayed and easy to access by employees and clients alike. In many cases, clients aid in helping treat fellow club members because they’re medical professionals, they have lifesaving training, or simply because they’re in close proximity to the victim.
EAP training should also be a vital component of new employee orientations, in which all new employees initial that they have read and understand the EAP, and will respond accordingly in an emergency situation. Employees must prepare for emergency variables beyond their control. They must be knowledgeable of certain warning signs or symptoms that are at risk of escalating into emergency situations. Prevention is critical. Provide additional literature or training on how to identify early signs of a diabetic emergency, heat or cold induced stress or illness, allergic reaction, or even a skin disorder or bacterial infections that can spread to other club members, such as MRSA. Don’t forget to revisit your EAP with your tenured employees from time-to-time, so the information is fresh in their minds. From natural disaster to power outages, to infections and even crime — review and revise your EAP every two or three years so that you continually adapt to and limit new risks and emergency scenarios.
Michele Monaco is an Associate Professor at American Public University. She has been a certified athletic trainer for 15 years and earned her doctorate in athletic training in 2009. She also is part of a concussion research team. Michele may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the online Sports and Health Sciences programs at APU, visit StudyatAPU.com/cs.