Imagine a successful sports day, great weather, players all turn up on time, officials and umpires mingling, the smell of egg and bacon rolls in the chilly early morning breeze, the excited chatter of children warming up for the big race or the first big game of the season. The elevated mood and friendly competition involves participants and onlookers, the customary pictures of children finishing their first race of the day or the traditional oranges mid-game giving those lacking energy the push they need to finish the game. We all know what it looks, feels, sounds and smells like!
Although we all love this experience and have many fond memories, either as a student or participant ourselves or as the sports coordinator of the event, there can be a large, often unspoken, concern that underpins the successful operation of these events – who will look after the participants when one of them gets hurt? Whether it is a small event with only a few games or large week-long competition, there is always the risk of someone injuring themselves. It could be a participant within the course of play their game, although more often than not you may find that an onlooker is the one getting injured. This is why it is so important to have First Aid support staﬀ at all of your events. The role of a teacher, coach or sports coordinator is a complex one, which many moving parts. The responsibility of looking after all your athletes, managing the moves on and off the field, juggling the many parents and interested parties who are telling what coaching moves to make, along with supporting the wellbeing of all your students is enough in itself. Often an injury can be the incident that throws all of this into chaos.
Take this as an example from earlier this year which @Mitch Gray recalls.
“Myself and a colleague were working as first responders at a regular weekly sporting event that occurs year long. This event usually results in a mixture of twisted ankles, cramping legs and the occasional dislocated thumb, however, during this particular week our first aid team attended a severe spinal injury. The patient was numb down one side and was increasingly confused as to where they were and what was happening. Two ambulances, one mica paramedic and a HEMS helicopter later and the feedback came through to us that luckily the patient was okay and would make a full recovery. Our first aid team also found out that if we had not been there to treat this person immediately, with the training and experience we had, the situation might have ended up a lot worse.”
Not only were the medical staff able to treat this patient for their physical injuries, they were also able to assist in checking on the mental health and wellbeing of those who witnessed and were involved in the incident, which resulted in everyone being able to compose themselves and allowed them to treat the patient without disruption and allow the paramedics to work when they arrived. The moral of this anecdote is that the first responders on scene were able to take immediate action in order to treat the patient, instead of having to wait for an ambulance which may take vital minutes to arrive which could be used in helping this person.
As stated in this story, not only can first responders treat and assist if a major incident should this happen, but they are also able to assess a situation and manage the onlookers in a suitable way that is best for the wellbeing of the patient. As we know the first letter in DRSABC is D, which of course stands for “Danger”. Highly trained and experienced First Aid oﬃcers are able to manage the various components associated with medical incidents, including the patient, but also the surrounding onlookers, ensuing that they don’t present further dangers to the injured person or themselves. They will also clear the area and create a safe space to work along with ensuring the patient feels comfortable and not like they may be in the way or concerned for others.
Another reason for making sure you have First Aid Oﬃcers at every event is that they are trained to deal with all kinds of situations. Whether it be a bandaid for a bleeding toe, removing a splinter, or broken arms, First Aid officers are trained to deal with whatever they are presented with. As opposed to flipping a coin to work out which teacher is going to be in charge of first aid each event, and then trying to work out if they have all the equipment they need for every injury that may arise, First Aid Oﬃcers will bring their own kits, full of specific equipment needed for all injuries, no matter how small or large. For example, a teacher who is in-charge of first aid at any given event, may also be in-charge of the triple jump, cooking the sausage sizzle lunch, marshalling players and athletes or even managing the carpark and traffic. With so many other things on their mind, they might forget the little things needed that can have a big impact in a medical situation should it occur.
At local school athletics carnivals held every week, on average, there is upwards of 10 first aid events in a 4-hour period. This can include anything from track burn, to concussion, to the occasional ‘back-verses-high-jump mat’ incident. Having First Aid oﬃcers on site increases the chance that the injured person could be treated then and there, reducing the amount of people flooding the emergency room of the local hospital. This also alleviates pressure on local ambulance services, freeing them for higher priority cases.
In conclusion, First Aid and Medical staff are a vital component of any sporting event and should be considered an essential service of your next school, club or community sporting program. No matter how big or small the occasion, the support First Aid oﬃcers provide is critical and may even save a life at your next event. Don’t risk not having appropriate support for your teaching staff, coaches and sports administration teams, plan ahead and consider how you can get First Aid officers in place for you upcoming sporting fixtures.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Kidzphyz Sports offers a range of PE and Sport based programs, delivered in person and virtually. Programs include PE classes, fitness workshops, school holiday sports camps, clinics and activities for kids of all ages to enjoy.
Sport Staff One is Australia’s largest network of coaches and umpires. We believe in developing grassroots and school sport, so everyone has the opportunity to play and experience the positive ideals of physical activity. For every goal scored, run made and try put down; SSO are her so you can experience it.