Emergencies in Coaching – Having a Plan

As a coach, you’re a trusted friend, advisor, and mentor to your team. But you’re also responsible for the performance and safety of your athletes, so it is essential to think through the potential emergency situations you may face and have an action plan to respond.

Heather Beatty, ViaSport
Heather Beatty of ViaSport shares safety and emergency preparedness tips for coaches

We were lucky enough to interview Heather Beatty, ViaSport’s Coaching and Female Inclusion Lead, about this very topic. Heather is an accomplished Curler who has coached a number of teams throughout her career and spent five years with Curl BC. In her role with ViaSport, Heather is responsible for coordinating coach development and education efforts across B.C. and liaising with the Coaching Association of Canada to ensure all athletes in the province have access to a qualified coach. Heather knows exactly what safety and emergency preparedness means for coaches, and is sharing her expertise with you today!

What are the most common emergencies coaches have to deal with?

Injuries! No matter what sport you coach, you will have to deal with an injury to yourself, your players, or the spectators at some point. It doesn’t matter if it is a minor or a major injury, the situation needs to be dealt with in a calm, focused, and deliberate manner. As a coach, you are in charge, and you must step up to resolve the situation for your team.

What is the most important thing a coach can do to mitigate the impact of an emergency situation?

Remain calm and involve the right people! In any emergency, your stress levels heighten, and there are usually a number of people around you trying to help. The more people around, the more time you have to spend directing them rather than dealing with the emergency itself. If you can remain calm and give concise directions to a few key people around you, you’ll be able to stick with your Emergency Action Plan to resolve the situation.

What is an Emergency Action Plan (E.A.P.)?

An E.A.P. is your roadmap to handling any emergency as a coach. It starts with identifying all the emergencies that could happen for you, your athletes, and your team. After identifying potential emergencies, you need to understand how the venue will impact your response, plan for how you will notify the athlete’s emergency contact person (use ePACT!), and assign people to each of the roles needed to handle the emergency. Having the right first aid training and equipment are also really important! Coach.ca has a great checklist for what to include in your E.A.P.

How can a coach identify all potential emergencies?

You can never identify every potential emergency, but you need to think beyond the obvious to identify the potential risks and their ripple effects. For example, if one of your athletes gets injured, you need to consider how the athlete will respond, how his/her teammates will react (especially if you are coaching kids!), if any parents will get involved, and how quickly you will be able to summon medical assistance. There are so many variables, you need to do your best to plan for as many as possible!

How can coaches prepare for an emergency?

Train yourself and get advice from other coaches. Through ViaSport and the Coaching Association of Canada, coaches can access National Coaching Certification Program (N.C.C.P.) workshops on how to assess, plan for, and manage emergency situations. The Planning a Practice module includes in-depth training on how to establish your Emergency Action Plan and put it into practice during an emergency. The Making Headway for Concussion Awareness module also trains coaches to recognize the symptoms of a concussed athlete and how to help your athlete deal with them. Coaches can access all N.C.C.P. coaching programs in B.C. through ViaSport!


ViaSport British Columbia is a not-for-profit organization created in 2011 as a legacy of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Its mandate is to increase awareness, opportunity and participation in sport across the province–at every stage of life and in every community.


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