Terrorism and Youth Baseball
USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee
While the terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center and subsequent anthrax contaminations via the postal services gave new meaning and emotion to what had long been discussed in baseball as "crisis management", the fear of further terrorist acts in the U.S. will now always be of concern. Essentially, how does a baseball 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 reasonably predictable crises, e.g., electrical storm decisions, bleacher collapse, gangs in the parking lot, parental confrontations. However, terrorism by definition adds unpredictability to the planning process.
Exposures to terrorism are 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 the 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 consultants). It is the everyday coach/team exposure that needs renewed attention to at least the following particular preparations that should already be 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(s) and phone number(s) to use in the event of an emergency affecting that player.
2. Each head coach should by pre-planning know (a) who and how to call for emergency medical help if ever needed (cell phones have made this one a lot easier), (b) who is to start appropriate bystander first aid care to the injured while the call is being pursued, (c) who is to control the remainder of the team while attention is being give to the call and the injured player, and (d) who is then to call the injured player's contact person if/when appropriate. NOTE: It is always best to have a backup system in mind in not in place for each step, should something go wrong with the best of planning (e.g., the head coach is the victim).
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 in effect for direct contact should any concern need help (e.g., child sexual abuse) and should be kept in confidence while channeling information to those in the business of investigation and legal action. The same need exists for ballpark owners/lessors.
These above principles are readily applicable to the potential threat of terrorism. The league and its ballpark owners are thereby encouraged to establish the appropriate contacts within their local law enforcement agencies to obtain what is currently recommended by them based on what is currently advocated and also to be directly notified should a terrorist plan or action of local relevance be anticipated or realized.