Sports Medicine Australia calls for more first-aid training

TRAINERS  at community football clubs need more face-to-face training to prepare them for what they may have to respond to, according to Sports Medicine Australia.

The AFL sets the skills required by trainers at community football games.

Those who have com­pleted the AFL emergency res­ponse co-ordinator, or ERC qualification meet the minimum standard, and at least one person with those skills must attend all ­senior and youth matches.

But SMA chief Anthony Merrilees believes a Level 1 Sports Trainer ­accreditation should ­become the minimum requirement.

Equivalent qualifications are listed by the AFL as the recommended level of training, but are not compulsory.

In particular, Merrilees said SMA would advocate for a minimum of between 8-16 hours face-to-face instruction for trainers, coupled with “a lot of ­online learning”.

“I don’t think (the ERC training is) adequate and it’s got to do with the number of hours (to get the qualification) and the practical training and the circumstances you might come up against,” Merrilees said.

“When you’ve had someone who’s had a really serious head knock, a serious spinal injury or, worst case scenario, you have someone who is having cardiac arrest either as a participant or as a spectator on the field, that’s when you need to have the confidence to be able to respond and respond appropriately.

“Basically the more hours you get practically doing that increases your capacity to ­respond. So decreasing the hours, in my opinion, is ­compromising the ability of people to respond and really giving them no greater qualification than real common sense, and I don’t think that’s adding a lot to the equation.”

Merrilees said while SMA was consulted about the courses “generally we would like to see people having a much higher level of qualification at the community sports level”.

The AFL’s policy says that qualified sports trainers must be present at all community matches, and must be competent in a number of areas, including on-field assessment of injured participants which includes man­aging severe injuries and life-threatening medical emergencies.

The ERC course takes about three hours, but participants must already hold an approved first aid ­certificate.

To make the Level 1 Sports Trainer course more accessible for “time-poor volunteers”, Merrilees said SMA tried to keep it to eight hours training coupled with online training.

“Rather than people say we can’t afford it, this is all too ­difficult, we’re better off ­looking at solutions of how we can overcome these hurdles rather than throwing our hands up in the air and saying ‘too difficult, we shouldn’t do it’, because we should.”

An AFL spokesman said it took player welfare very seriously and was concerned about all injuries at all levels of football.

“The AFL’s current policies are designed to ensure our participants enjoy the safest possible environment in which to play,” the spokesman said.

“The AFL would consider any proposal from SMA on how we can enhance the skills of volunteer sports trainers at community level.”

However, AFL Queensland Community Competitions Rules and Regulations stipulates that trainers “must have the minimum of a Level 1 Sports Trainer qualification or equivalent”.

Yes, there is a struggle to get people to commit to a days worth of training in all areas including sports training and first aid. We need to somehow entice more people to go to these courses. The information needs to be spread so that people understand having these skills is not only good for when they are at work or sports events but for general everyday life.

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