It’s about capability, not just the bare minimum


When was the last time your sporting club reviewed its first aid and sports trainer capability?


“Why should we bother? We have a first aider, or a physio there on game day?”

“This is what our governing body requires us to do.”

At some point your club will be faced with a significant first aid episode, planning ahead will go a long way to improving how well your club responds.  It is very easy for complacency to creep in if your club has been relatively incident free recently – especially during COVID.  Having multiple people at your club who are capable and trained will make a difference.

In 20016-2017, almost 60,000 people were hospitalised in Australia for sports injuries (Australian Government AIHW February 2022)

Having multiple people at your club who are capable and trained will make a difference.  

Duty of care is not just about doing the minimum, in many instances clubs are looking after children and loved ones.  This is a great opportunity for clubs to be leaders in this space and become a “club of choice” by putting members health, welfare and well-being front and centre.

1 in 10 sports injuries are life threatening

According the the AIHW report (2020) – 10% of all people admitted to hospital had life threatening injuries, the main sports here were; swimming and diving (27%), cycling (24%), equestrian activities (24%), wheeled motor sports (21%) and recreational walking (19%).

If your sport is a contact or collision sport, involves projectiles and/or high speeds– or is a high risk sport, such as horse and pony clubs then it is even more critical to review your first aid and sports trainer capability. All of the above are associated with risk of head and neck injury (BJSM).

In 2016-17 almost 18,500 people were hospitalised after playing football – most of these were male.  However, with the massive increase in participation by women in all football codes, this number will definitely change.

Not every club has a physiotherapist available for training nights and competition days, and even more rarely do they have a doctor.  At community sport level medical and physiotherapy coverage is often just not a reality.  If your doctor or physio can’t make it – who can look after your club and manage your risk?

Why bother having multiple trained people at my club?


Having multiple people trained at your club in first aid and as Sports Trainers improves the standard of care you can provide to your club members, it provides flexibility when people are away, so you are not reliant on just 1-2 people, and it increases your confidence as a club to respond effectively to first aid episodes.  In addition, it can reduce costs, by training your own club members you can reduce the need to pay for external providers.

If you have physiotherapy and/or medical support that’s great, however, they may not always be present for all training and games across your club. There are still large gaps in coverage (eg training nights, juniors training and games, carnivals and other events). Having qualified club members will help address this.  Training club members and improving your capability internally in first aid, strapping and sports training, is a no brainer – you are taking people who are engaged with your club and improving their ability to help.


Which course should I complete?

There are a suite of nationally recognised first aid training courses available – from Provide First Aid, through to Advanced First Aid, Advanced Resuscitation and Spinal Injury Management Course.

In addition, Sports Medicine Australia, runs the excellent Level 1 and Level 2 Sports Trainer Courses – which is seen as the standard requirement to perform the duties of a Sports Trainer (strapping, concussion recognition and management, managing injuries and transporting injured athletes, in addition to other competencies as well) in most major Australian sporting codes.

If you become a qualified Sports Trainer with Sports Medicine Australia, you can also access their member insurance for Sports Trainers.

Reservations about completing further training


People are often reluctant to complete advanced training – take for example the Spinal Injury Course.

If you are involved in Australian Rules, Rugby League or Rugby Union then head and neck injuries are more likely. Australian Rules (30%) and Rugby (32% – combined League and Union data) – a compelling conversation exists to complete the spinal injury management course.

One concern voiced by people about spinal injury management is making an injured casualty worse my moving them. However, in most instances though we will not move an injured casualty, and this is reinforced in the training courses.

In most instances we will stabilise the casualty in position and wait for the ambulance to arrive.  As an experienced Sports & Exercise Physiotherapist, I know from personal experience that wait times for an ambulance can be very long (more than 40-60 minutes). This is even more likely if you live in a regional or rural area.

The spinal injury management course is much more than just moving a casualty.  Keep in mind that people with suspected spinal injuries don’t always present on their back – do you know how to move them if they are face down?

Change is coming – get ahead of the curve

Pony Club Australia has set out revised minimum medical standards for Pony Club that come into effect from 1st July, 2022.  This is a great initiative to help improve the standard of care for their members across all levels of competition. It would be great to see other sporting bodies review their minimum standards for the present day.

However, given that Pony Club Australia report that 92% of incidents in 2021 were rider falls, it is interesting that the spinal injury management course is not part of their framework.

Hopefully this artice will stimulate a great conversation within your club about your current capability and what you can do to look after your members better.


Orange First Aid Training can run any combination of the above courses for your club, simply give us a call on 0488 749 013 or email us for a conversation about the specific needs for your club.