Emergency Action Planning in School-Based Athletics: A Systematic Review


  • Riley Hedberg University of Kansas School of Medicine
  • William Messamore, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Tanner Poppe
  • Armin Tarakemeh
  • Rick Burkholder, M.S., ATC
  • Trent Carter, M.S., ATC
  • Bryan Vopat, M.D.
  • Jean-Philippe Darche, M.D.




athletic injuries, youth sports, team sports, sports medicine


Introduction. A significant number of preventable catastrophic injuries occur in secondary school athletics. Compliance to Emergency Action Plan (EAP) recommendations is not well documented. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify compliance to EAP recommendations, access to an athletic trainer (AT) and automated external defibrillator (AED), and current legislative mandates in school-based athletics.

Methods. Electronic databases were searched to identify articles that met criteria for inclusion. Studies in English that focused on adoption, implementation, or compliance with EAPs or other national guidelines pertaining to athlete health were eligible for inclusion. Quality and validity were examined in each article and data were grouped based on outcome measures.

Results. Of 12,906 studies, 21 met the criteria for inclusion and full text review. Nine studies demonstrated EAP adoption rates ranging from 55% - 100%. Five studies found that EAPs were rehearsed and reviewed annually in 18.2% - 91.6% of schools that have an EAP. At total of 9.9% of schools were compliant with all 12 National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) EAP guidelines. A total of 2.5% - 27.5% of schools followed NATA exertional heat illness guidelines and 50% - 81% of schools had access to an Athletic Trainer. In addition, 61% - 94.4% of schools had an AED available at their athletic venues. Four of 51 state high school athletic association member schools were required to meet best practice standards for EAP implementation, 7 of 51 for AED access, 8 of 51 for heat acclimation, and 3 of 51 for concussion management.

Conclusions. There was a wide range of EAP adoption and a low rate of compliance to EAP guidelines in U.S. schools. Barriers to EAP adoption and compliance were not well documented and additional research should aim to identify impeding and facilitating factors.






Original Research