Equipment-Laden Athlete Safe Handling Protocol

This protocol has been developed by the medical staff to reflect standing orders pertaining to equipment removal from an injured equipment-laden athlete.  This protocol is a summary drawn from the team’s comprehensive emergency action plan, and is intended to summarize the medical team’s preparation for and initial response to the identified condition.  This protocol summary is intended to serve only as a guideline.  The following procedures are not intended to substitute for prudent autonomous medical decision-making required during actual care and management of a sick or injured individual.  Please see the comprehensive emergency action plan for a formal write-up and reference material.


Emergency Management Checklist
BLS Management Supplies ALS Management Considerations Equipment Management Considerations
  • Heavy duty bandage shears;
  • Power screw driver;
  • Riddell® Quick-Release® Tool;
  • FMxtractor®;
  • Pack-n-fill towels.
  • Local protocols and personal preferences regarding the appropriate timing of and location of equipment removal will vary.  This topic will be discussed during the medical time out to ensure that all medical team members are prepared to carry out the agreed upon protocols/techniques.
  • Removing only that equipment that is a liability to completion of immediate life-threatening critical care tasks has been shown to result in faster task completion;
  • Leaving equipment in place, but prepped to allow access to the airway and torso is not a contraindication for use of an AED or airway device;
  • Complete equipment removal as an initial step in critical care has been suggested to provide safer handling throughout the entire continuum of care.


Critical Content Overview

Acceptable techniques for equipment removal include the Flat-Torso and Torso-Lift techniques.

Flat-Torso Equipment Removal Technique Torso-Lift Equipment Removal Technique
  • Deflating air bladders and removing cheek pads have not been found to significantly affect helmet removal;
  • Many modern football helmets do not have removable cheek pads;
  • Cheek pads can cause a significant rebound force when they slide over the ears during helmet removal.
  • Most have found the Flat-Torso technique preferable to the Torso-Lift, but use the Torso-Lift when Flat-Lift attempts fail.


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