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Critical Incidents and Critical Incident Reporting: What Race Directors Need to Know

by USA Triathlon

No one wants to think about bad things happening on race day but as we all know, they can and do happen. At USA Triathlon, safety is our top priority, and we take the reporting of incidents and injuries at sanctioned events seriously.
As a race director, it's essential to understand the responsibilities when it comes to reporting incidents at your events. We're committed to working with you to ensure the safety and well-being of all athletes and appreciate your cooperation in this critical effort.
If something does happen, USA Triathlon is your partner in helping you negotiate the insurance process, handling the press or comments from social media, or if needed, support with the affected athletes and family members.

Keep reading to find out the information you need to know for Critical Incidents.

  1. Brad Hildebrandt – USA Triathlon Events Manager
  2. Damilola Sule – USA Triathlon Staff Attorney and Risk Management Insurance Liaison
    • Secondary point of contact in the reporting chain
    • Documentation and information collection
    • Insurance liaison and claim manager
  3. Camellia Noriega – USA Triathlon Associate General Council
    • Family contact and communication for fatality incidents
  4. Kelly Fox – USA Triathlon Marketing and Communications Director
    • Provides guidance and response to media and social media if a critical incident occurs at your event.

Check out the Critical Incident Report Checklist


What triggers a call to USA Triathlon Risk Management? Anytime an athlete, volunteer, staff or spectator is transported out of venue by ambulance.


How to report a Critical Incident:

The Race Director Hub is your home for everything you need on race days. You can find the critical incident form linked at the top of the page, or here.

  • To get there from the home page:
    • Usatriathlon.org > Our Community tab (Top of the page, dropdown) > Race Directors tab > Report a critical incident

Have a pre-established chain of command and communications lead.

  • Establish a single media spokesperson. If a reporter inquiries about a crisis before a public statement has been made, the response should be: “We are gathering information at this time and will share a public statement as soon as it is available.” Be sure to take down the reporter’s contact information and respond with the statement as soon as it is finalized.

Contact USA Triathlon before issuing any public statement for guidance.

  • Utilize USA Triathlon’s Crisis Communications guide to help craft your statement depending on the scenario.
  • Crisis Communications Guide

Don’t be reactive - ensure you have all the correct information, and your core team has approved all messaging before you publish anything online or on your social media channels. Just because an athlete, spectator or media member posts something publicly about your incident does not mean you need to respond immediately. You are in control of the narrative.

Be aware of your tone and use proper judgement on social media. If the incident occurred in a public area where lots of participants and/or spectators witnessed the incident, be cognizant of social media posts that aren’t operational in nature.

  • If conversations are starting or people are asking questions on your event’s Facebook page, you can post the public/media statement on your social page as well – but that’s it (don’t reply to individual comments or share more detail).

Post-event, continue to monitor social media and email closely, and be responsive to all questions from media, athletes and spectators. Provide the approved written statement as the response to all inquiries unless follow-up questions are asked. For follow-ups, work closely with the communications staff, race director and USA Triathlon to handle on a case-by-case basis.

  • Remember that privacy and HIPAA concerns still apply, and you are not obligated to answer every question a reporter asks if it would constitute a violation of privacy.

If you would like more information, you can watch the Race Director Town Hall from March 2024 for a full presentation led by Brad Hildebrandt on Critical Incidents and Critical Incident Reporting.

Watch the Zoom

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