Bioterrorism and Youth Baseball
By: Kenneth (Casey) Clarke, Ph.D. SLE Worldwide, Inc.
Member, USA Baseball Medical & Safety Advisory Committee
The attack on New York's World Trade Center in 2001 and the subsequent anthrax contaminations via the postal services gave new meaning and emotion to what had long been discussed in baseball as "crisis management". Essentially, how does a league minimize opportunity for sudden non-baseball crises from occurring during play and maximize the best possible response should a crisis actually occur? Baseball organizations are typically prepared for handling electrical storm decisions, bleacher collapse, gangs in the parking lot, parental confrontations, etc. However, terrorism adds unpredictability to all that, and sports organizations respond best to that which is reasonably predictable.
Exposures to terrorism can be distinguishable as (a) the coach with his/her team at practice or competition or in travel as a team; (b) the organization with an arena for fans and passersby as well as teams; and (c) the organization with overseas travel. Attention to the latter two exposures is best handled by consultation with risk management experts aligned with the parent organization (e.g., major league baseball security, U.S. State Department, insurance loss control staff/consultants). It is the coach/team exposure that needs renewed attention to at least the following particular preparations already in place in each community.
1. Each head coach should have at hand the current roster of his/her team that includes the particular person and phone number to use in the event of an emergency affecting that player.
2. Each head coach should by pre-planning know who and how to call for emergency help if ever needed (e.g., 911), who is to start appropriate first aid to the injured while the call is being pursued, who is to control the remainder of the team while attention is being given to the call and first aid care, and who is then to call the injured player's contact person when appropriate.
NOTE: It is always best to have a backup system in mind if not in place for each step, should something go wrong with the best of planning.
3. Each league should develop on behalf of itself and its head coaches a direct relationship with a designated local law enforcement contact. This should already have been done for sensitive issues of relevance to law enforcement (i.e., sexual abuse) from whatever source and should be kept in confidence while channeling information to those in the business of investigation and legal action.
The same principles can be applied to the potential threat of terrorism. The league is thereby encouraged to establish the appropriate contacts within their local law enforcement agencies and to obtain information on concerns about terrorist issues. They should develop and establish, with advice from local law enforcement the appropriate response guidelines to terrorist attack, as well as receive immediate directives should an attack occur (i.e., players should be escorted to a specific area or sent home).