MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota high school officials will be enforcing new rules on how to administer athletic contests to improve safety.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association will require registered officials to hold "a pre-contest medical timeout" beginning this fall, the Daily Republic reported. The timeout will be a short meeting held at the start of the first athletic contest for administrators, officials and coaches to discuss emergency personnel and protocols.

The medical timeout formalizes the process already in place in many school districts across the state, said John Krogstrand, the association's assistant executive director.

Before the athletic contest, officials will need to identify a qualified medical professional on site and an emergency action plan in place for the venue. Officials will also need to know each team's game administrator, the facility's emergency exits and whether there's an automated emergency defibrillator present.

Usually, a school principal, athletic director or superintendent can serve as the game administrator and control crowds. The qualified medical professional can be a paramedic, emergency medical technician, doctor, nurse or athletic trainer.

The policy's goal is to emphasize safety and minimize risk, said Krogstrand.

"We've seen cases where a little planning can help save a life and makes for a safe event for everyone," he said.

Mitchell High School Activities Director Cory Aadland said the requirement provides structure so there aren't assumptions about any emergency action.

"The challenge, of course, is that you can't train for every situation or prepare for everything that could possibly happen," Aadland said. "But you prepare as best as you can."

___

Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com