Team Safety Person
Keeping participants safe is one of the most important aspects of a fun environment. The Team Safety Person plays a significant role in assuring that participants are kept safe during all hockey activities by identifying and managing risks, leading injury management, and championing a safe environment within the team and organization.
Hockey Alberta has compiled the following resources to help the Team Safety Person can carry out his or her responsibilities effectively.
- Hockey Canada Safety Program
- Safety Requires Teamwork
- Emergency Action Plan
- Injury Management
There are three key responsibilities for the Team Safety Person:
- Work to prevent injuries through implementing effective risk management procedures
- Lead the management of injuries from the time of occurrence to returning to play
- Promotes the health and safety of the participants through role modeling and education.
A starting point for any Team Safety Person, the Hockey Canada Safety Course is an online program designed to provide all the information required to fulfill your role as a Team Safety Person.
Hockey Canada has created an informational guide to help the local minor hockey association, its teams, and its volunteers implement a safe environment for all of our participant. This guide covers topics such as participant protection, risk management, the Hockey Canada Insurance Program, and equipment fitting.
With any involvement in physical activities an encounter with potential serious injury is a possibility. Time becomes of critical importance with a severe injury and whether an injured player will recover completely and properly depends not only on the nature of the injury but the emergency care and treatment the player receives. The EAP is a standardized response designed to deal with any emergency in an organized and efficient manner.
Team hockey safety people and rink personnel should be prepared for any emergency situation and it is recommended that these people receive as much First Aid training as possible. Teams should have a qualified trainer or someone on the bench qualified in First Aid procedures. It is recommended that medically trained personnel be available to assist in the proper care of an injured player especially in the older age groups where injuries may be more common and more serious.
The following is an outline of each person’s role in the EAP:
1. Person in Charge
This would normally be the Safety Person, or the individual with the most specialized training in injury care. The duties of the Person in Charge include initially take control and assess the situation when coming into contact with the injured player. Once you have determined the severity of the injury, decide whether or not an ambulance or medical care is required. If you are certain that an ambulance is not necessary, then decide on what action is to be taken to remove the player from the ice surface. If an ambulance is required, notify your Call Person, give a brief explanation of the injury, and tell them to call for an ambulance. Make a note of the time at which the injury occurred and keep track in writing of all pertinent facts regarding the accident, including time of occurrence (e.g. time of ambulance arrival, etc.).
2. Call Person
The Call Person is responsible for making the telephone call when emergency help is required. The Call Person should ideally be someone who is at all games and practices but is not responsible for the bench area, and watches games and practices from the stands. The Call Person’s responsibilities include knowing the location of all emergency telephones or pay phones, in every facility in which your team plays, having a list of all emergency telephone numbers in every location in which your team plays (AND KNOWING IF 911 IS AVAILABLE IN THE AREA).
When placing the call for emergency assistance:
- Speak clearly and calmly at all times.
- State to the dispatcher that it is a medical emergency.
- Give the location of the arena facility (State name of arena and address).
- State what type of emergency it is and give the dispatcher a brief explanation of the injury (is the player conscious?bleeding? breathing normally?).
- Give the dispatcher the telephone number from which you are placing the call in the event that they must call back for more information.
- Give the dispatcher the best route into the arena facility and to the ice surface.
- Ask for the estimated time of arrival for the ambulance.
- Remain on the line until you are certain the dispatcher is finished asking questions and that your call has been transferred.
- Report back to the Person in Charge to confirm that the call for emergency help has been placed, and give them the estimated time of arrival for emergency assistance.
3. Control Person
The Control Person is responsible for controlling the crowd and other participants to ensure that the EAP is executed effectively. The Control Person’s responsibilities include:
- Ensuring no one is in the way of the Person in Charge and the injured player.
- Discussing the EAP with opponents, officials and arena staff.
- Ensuring a proper room is available to attend to the injured player if requested by the Person in Charge or emergency personnel.
- Ensuring that the route for the ambulance crew to the ice surface is clear and available.
- Seeking highly trained medical personnel in the arena facility if the Person in Charge believes the injury is serious and cannot wait for emergency assistance to arrive. This can be accomplished by using the loud speaker or having arena staff ask throughout the facility.
4. Coaching Staff
In a situation where a player is injured on the ice, the following are the responsibilities of the coach/assistant coach/manager:
The coach/assistant coach/manager should not be in a role where they are part of the Emergency Action Plan as the call person or the control person. The coach and manager should initiate a meeting at the beginning of the season to ensure they have the volunteers required for their Emergency Action Plan.
- In the case of a serious injury, the coach has the responsibility to ensure all other players on the team are kept at the bench or are taken to the dressing room if instructed to do so by the game official.
- The assistant coach will assist the coach as necessary with this process. If the coach is acting as the safety person, they should pre-determine who on the team will take on the supervision role if he or she is attending to an injured player.
- The manager should make themselves available to the safety person to assist in any way possible. This could include accessing the medical history form, speaking with the parents and assisting the control person.
5. On-Ice Officials
The official continues to assume the role of being in charge of the overall environment; however, the safety person takes over with respect to executing the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and in making decisions around the injured player.
In a situation where a player is injured on the ice, the following are the responsibilities of the game officials:
- Once the injured player’s team takes possession of the puck, the referee blows down the play. If the injury is deemed serious by the referee, s/he may blow down the play immediately.
- Once play has stopped, the referee should signal the safety person on to the ice.
- If possible, a linesman should help the safety person to the injured player.
- It is recommended that the officials pre-determine as a group who will give this assistance in the case of an injury.
- If the officials are otherwise occupied, the safety person can leave the bench immediately once the play is blown down if they feel the injury is serious.
- As the safety person assesses the player’s condition, officials should ask both teams to go to their benches and the officials should remain on the ice and in control of both teams.
- If an official is a professional medical person or has first aid training, they should advise the safety person of this and remain close to the safety person in case they ask for assistance.
- If the safety person requests assistance from someone in the stands the officials should allow this person on to the ice surface, assisting them to the injured player and the safety person.
- Once the safety person has determined the player can be removed from the ice, the official should allow the safety person to take the lead in removing the player safely.
- If the safety person deems necessary and requests an ambulance, they will signal to the call person in the stands.
- The call person has been trained to come to the ice surface and out to the safety person to receive information on the injury.
- The official should assist the call person on and off the ice.
- Once the ambulance is called, the officials should send both teams to their dressing rooms. The officials can also work to assist the safety person as required once both teams are in their rooms.
- If the parents of the injured player come to the ice surface, the officials should use common sense.
- For example, if the player is very young it may be beneficial to have one parent come out to the player to comfort them until the ambulance arrives.
- Once the ambulance arrives, the paramedics take control of the situation and the official should stand by to assist in any way possible.
A successful safety program starts with preparation including working with your team to build its emergency action plan, collecting the necessary medical and contact information for all participants, and holding a preseason meeting with parents to set the team’s safety related expectations. When collecting personal information ensure that you are only collecting the information necessary for its intended purpose, securely stored, and when it is not needed anymore disposed in an appropriate manner.
Hockey Alberta’s Stacey Pattison discusses the importance of preseason planning. Key considerations include tryout procedures, selecting safety staff, and resources available.
Hockey Alberta’s Stacey Pattison discusses safety related topics to be included in your preseason coaches meetings including the importance of having all the staff being on the same page.
Hockey Alberta’s Stacey Pattison discusses safety related topics that can be included in your team’s preseason parents meeting such as setting expectations and what a return to play process would look like for your team.
Hockey is a game that requires a diverse set of skills and is played in a confined space. Even with all of our best attempts to ensure a safe environment sometimes injuries can happen. Two of the most important roles of a team safety person are recognizing and removing an injured player and facilitating the proper return to participation for that player.
Hockey Alberta’s Stacey Pattison discusses some brief points on how to manage a concussion from a team safety person’s perspective.
Hockey Alberta’s Allison Marriott discuses some key aspects of a return to play process including the importance of having a gradual return to the activity.