The importance of medical responders in sport

Everyone has witnessed it in sport: an athlete goes down during the play, the game is stopped and a member of the team’s staff is rushed on the field to assess the player’s status.

After a period of time when an injury is present, a decision is made whether the player can get off the playing surface bearing weight, or if assistance is required. In serious cases, 911 could be called to address a sports injury emergency.

Who are the people making these decisions for the best interest of the athletes? What type of sport or medical training do they have to make the call on what happens?

Depending on the sport organization and/or the level of play, a person with trainer/medical certification is present for the best interests of everyone involved.

Some sport organizations state there must be a certified person on site, while other organizations recommend someone with trainer or medical certification is present, but this is not mandatory.

For instance, the Ontario Minor Hockey Association provides a hockey trainer certification program to educate laypeople on the safety, prevention, recognition and management of hockey-related injuries. The course can be completed online and is a good baseline certification for someone on the bench to have at a minor league game.

Unfortunately, the majority of other sporting organizations do not have these programs in place to educate laypeople on the management of injuries. More often, recently, many teams bring in outside people with sport-specific first responder training. These first responders assist with medical situations on field and sideline care serving the best interests and well-being of the athletes.

This is seen especially in tournament situations where many games are running in a short period of time.

First responders are trained in techniques for sustaining life, preventing further injury, and caring for illness and injuries until the next level of medical personnel arrives.

Many sport-focused manual and medical providers complete this additional training to become a first responder as a requirement to help with teams at national and international levels.

Dr. Andrew Fagan is a licensed chiropractor, kinesiologist and clinical acupuncture provider. You can reach him at dr.fagan@porthopehealthcentre.com or 905-885-5111

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