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Incident Reporting and Serious Injury Communication

By USA Triathlon | May 29, 2019, 4:27 p.m. (ET)

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Race season is upon us and, unfortunately, with it comes the chance of accidents and injuries on the course. We want you to be as prepared as possible in the event of a serious accident at your event, so you will know what information to collect, who to reach out to and what to do after the event is over. 

Incident Reporting

You should have incident reports on hand either digitally or hard copy (or both) and easily accessible for your medical team to fill out. An incident report MUST be filled out for every athlete that comes into medical, regardless of how minor the injury may be. 

Any athlete that crashes or gets injured on course in any way should be required to go to medical to get checked out and have an incident report completed. You can let the athlete know that this is in their best interest as we need an incident report for the athlete to use the USAT Participant Accident coverage they have access to by being a member and competing at a sanctioned event.  

When filling out the incident report, collect as much information as possible so that USAT is well equipped to defend you, the race director, now and in the future should any claims arise. This means filling out as much athlete contact information as you can collect and then having your medical team be very detailed when they fill out the description of the injury and the cause of the accident.

Some medical staff may be apprehensive of sharing the personal information on the incident report due HIPAA laws, but as they are a hired contractor at your event and are working for you, they are allowed to share that information with you. Additionally, the athlete was participating at your event and signed your waiver so you have a right to that information in order to protect yourself and USAT.

Serious Injuries or Athlete Death

We hope you never need to use this procedure, but the unfortunate reality is athletes do end up in the hospital on a regular basis due to circumstances out of anyone’s control. We want you to know that we are here for you in the event of a serious injury or athlete death at your event, should one of these situations arise.

Please take the following steps in order:

  1. Contact Certified Race Official (CRO), if one was requested for your event
    a. If there is no CRO, call USAT directly.
  2. CRO contacts USAT Commission of Officials, Deb Wilson.
    a. While CRO is contacting Commissioner and USAT, inform the athlete’s emergency contact of the situation, if you haven’t already, and encourage them to head to the hospital.
    b. Begin collecting witness statements from police, first responders, lifeguards, etc., anyone that was involved with the incident. These can be written or recorded in the interest of time. 
    c. Have an incident report filled out as soon as reasonably possible with as much information as you can gather.
  3. Deb Wilson contacts USAT staff, Brad Hildebrandt or Andy Horn, and informs them of the situation.
  4. USAT will connect with the race director to gather more information and provide assistance with creating a statement for public release.
    a. Wait to release a statement until you speak with USAT as we have a communications team that can help to craft a proper statement that speaks to the incident and maintains appropriate athlete privacy.
    b. If you are unable to get ahold of USAT and are being pressured by media to release a statement, review the Crisis Communication Best Practices guide on the Race Director Toolbox.

After the Event

After the event is over, the best way to show support to the athlete and/or their family is to reach out to them and let them know you are there if they need any support or have any questions. They may or may not take you up on this but making the gesture is the most important part and can help to make any future interactions go much more smoothly.  

If there is an athlete death, USAT will reach out to the emergency contact person and inform them of the Accidental Death Insurance Policy that is available to the family. To be sensitive to the situation, we usually wait a few days after the event before letting them know of the policy.

Finally, we recommend that you continue to gather any witness statements, collect the police report number (most police reports take a few weeks to be released) and submit the incident report to USAT as quickly as possible.