Friday, November 18, 2011

First Aid at Tournaments

Its a frequently asked question for a tournament organiser - what do I do about First Aid at tournaments? While First Aid provision is mandatory and a no-brainer at big and competitive events like Nationals and Halibut, for other events, here's some thoughts.

TDs need to think about First Aid at Ultimate tournaments in terms of providing a focus for players to act quickly when someone gets injured, particularly if hospitalisation is a possibility. As a sport without referees, coaches and played by amateurs and run by volunteers, we generally don't have someone else watching a game and having responsibility for acting when someone is injured.

So, much like interpreting the rules, acting on injuries is everyone's responsibility (not just teammates, subs or friends). Games should stop for as long as is required (there's often a temptation to urge someone off the field so that the game can continue - resist this).

TD's can help by providing a focus for treatment, particularly a physical one in terms of a First Aid Station that is visible/known to all and mentioned during pre-event briefing.

(Side note - TD's who play their tournament should ALWAYS rig the draw so that they play right next to frisbee central and the First Aid Station, and are therefore nearby and can notice problems even while playing in their own game).

TD's can also help by focusing on flexibility in hot weather - if your tournament weather is looking hot, be very careful about heat exhaustion. Check out the AFDA's Hot Weather policies or talk to JdR about the things he's seen.

Folks often think first about getting St John's Ambulance Volunteers or some other dedicated first aider. This is appropriate for large events, both in terms of risk, and in terms of ameliorating the cost. A general rule of thumb for Ultimate seems to be day-long events of more than 150-180 players should closely consider getting St John's. More than 200 people and you should probably do it. The cost is something like $200-250/a day, you need to book at least six weeks ahead.

For a smaller event, a highly visible First Aid kit, ice and a good Captain briefing seems adequate. By Captain briefing, I mean that at least one person from every team should know:
- who the TD and/or delegated person for First Aid is and where they will be;
- where to find the First Aid kit and ice;
- where the nearest emergency room is;
- what their option is if their team doesn't have a car to drive someone to hospital.

Make sure your First Aid kit is properly stocked.

Remember, the most common part of First Aid at Ultimate tournaments is helping the injured person with decision making and then acting on that - should this injured person go to hospital, or at least not play any further? You often don't need much fancy training for that.

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