Injury prevention & response.

Robert Barton 

The first step toward successfully managing injuries has to do with quality instructor training and the application of sound teaching principles that stress safety. A well trained instructor prevents countless injuries as he or she teaches and manages a class. Safety and prevention measures should be part of the policies and practices of any school. Good instructors plan for injuries well in advance and examine their schools to minimize the possibility of injury. *Safety policies should be in a written form and part of the initial package of school rules and procedures initially handed to and discussed with a new student as part of orientation. These policies should be revisited with each class periodically in scheduled increments at a minimum of twice yearly. An injury report form should be available to all classes and a copy should be filled out for any injury.

It cannot be stressed enough that each instructor should be trained in first aid or as a first responder and every class should have at least one person present who is trained in this way. A sound immediate response to an injury or possible injury can minimize the long term negative effects of training injuries and the key to a sound and appropriate response is preparation and training. Along with training in first aid should be the presence of a first aid kit in every class. This kit should be kept fully stocked with anything that is used being replaced immediately. A first aid kit should also periodically be checked and updated; this can be scheduled to occur in conjunction with class safety policy review.

Any potential injury should be taken seriously and addressed in some way even if the injury turns out to be minor. In the instance of a student who is a minor the injury should be reported to the parent. In the even of any sort of possible injury the continued safety of the students is paramount and our first step will be to stabilize a seriously injured student to minimize further injury. We call immediately for assistance and if professional medical help is needed a senior student, assistant instructor or observer should be directed to call emergency personnel. If a student has to be transported to a hospital a copy of the injury report should be sent along also to provide hospital personnel with more information. The student or parent should also have a copy of any injury report.

If an injury seems to need medical attention but does not require emergency attention the instructor should make his or her recommendation of this to the student and/or parent/guardian and these instructions should be written on the injury report. At a minimum the student should be instructed to keep an eye on the injury and see a doctor if it does not seem to be clearing up or starts to get worse and these instructions should be written on the injury report form.**  

Any injury or possible injury should be taken seriously and never ignored or dismissed with platitudes.  As instructors it is our responsibility to insure that we establish a safe and secure environment for training and that we prepare ourselves to manage emergency situations. Proper and immediate response to any possible injury is our duty and by acting with training and good intent and immediacy we are demonstrating good martial arts practice to our students. We also help to minimize the amount of damage caused by an injury and decrease the amount of time required for healing if we address the injury quickly and appropriately. Our clear preparation in advance by insuring that we are trained and that we have policies and procedures in place and that we act promptly and appropriately can also help us with issues of personal liability. 

*The use of a specific safety policy helps to insure the safest possible environment for class and it shows intent to insure safety. The presence of this policy can be used to get insurance companies to lower rates on a school. Another important use for these policies is that they can show good faith intent if there is ever an issue of negligence.

**These reports serve multiple purposes relative to health and legalities. As to health issues they insure that a full description of the event and first aid is given to medical personnel. By handing this form to a student or parent the instructor insures that he or she has met responsibility to fully inform and had made no attempt to ignore or hide an issue. An instructor filling out these forms should never state what he or she thinks might be wrong and should fully describe the events and symptoms only. Always err on the side of safety when filling out these forms recommending keeping an eye on any injury and one can never go wrong recommending that a doctor be consulted. If an instructor feels strongly that a student should see a doctor you may add that a student should return to class with a written release from a doctor. These forms demonstrate that the instructor takes these injuries seriously and does not act carelessly where injuries are concerned. 

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