In Case of Emergency at Diablo CrossFit


Despite your best intentions, injuries and emergencies can happen in the gym.

Craig Howard, the owner of Diablo CrossFit in Pleasant Hill, California, explained early on in his business they had higher risks of injury due to high rates of member inexperience. In fact, once in 2008 when both Howard and his business partner were gone, Brian Pandji came to the gym for the first time.

After going hard with the WOD that involved overhead squats, Pandji ended up in the hospital for seven days with rhabdomyolysis. Howard said as a gym they responded with great care. In fact, when Pandji was ready to come back, he was given three months free so the Diablo Coaches could reintroduce him to CrossFit.

Now, Pandji is an avid CrossFitter and owns CrossFit Equator in Jakarata, Indonesia.

From that experience, Howard said they created a standardized first workout to minimize risk. It’s an 8-minute AMRAP that starts with a 400 meter run, then goes into 10 pullups, 20 pushups, 30 situps and 40 air squats. He explained you just don’t know how a newbie to CrossFit is going to respond, so standardizing their first workout is crucial.

Over the years, Diablo has developed an “Injuries or Medical Emergencies” response system within Diablo’s Policies and Procedures Manual. While the first part details where items like the first aid kit and AED device are located in the gym, the second deals with A.T.A.C. — Assess the situation, Take charge, Attend to the Member, Call 911 if needed. ATAC at Diablo CrossFit is detailed below:

Assess the situation. Determine the severity of the client injury and make sure the client is safe and out of the way of moving equipment.

Take charge. Speak with a loud and clear voice so everyone can hear you.

Attend to the member. Stop class, and attend to the client. Do not move them immediately.

Call 911 if the individual is unconscious or the situation is severe. Follow proper CPR training procedures and instruct someone to call 911 immediately. Be sure to ask out loud if any member is a doctor, nurse or trained first responder, and accept assistance.

If the client is able to stand up and walk without further injury, assist them to the front room area to rest and recover. The front desk staff will assist. Only move the individual if you are able to do so comfortably.

If the client or member cannot or should not move, make them comfortable where they are, and immediately notify the front desk who can assist with contacting the member’s emergency contact person.

In case of mild, soft tissue injuries such as a bruise or slightly sprained ankle or wrist, ask the client if they’d like to ice the injury and provide a bag of ice. If the injury is moderately severe, but the client is not in distress, make sure that he/she is in a comfortable position.

Always encourage the client to visit their doctor or go to the hospital emergency room for treatment.

Allow the member to leave ONLY if they are comfortable driving or have a ride. If the client is unable to drive and cannot arrange for transportation, please contact the Pit Boss or an owner to arrange transportation.

Prepare an Injury Report: As soon as possible and after the client has been cared for and has left, you MUST send an email to “” with the following information: 
client name, time, date, and details of the injury, treatment and client action.

 Follow up: Our members are our family. Send an email or text to follow up on their care and treatment.

Heather Hartmann
Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at