Time for National Governing Bodies to Take Responsibility
It is now over 26 years since The Society of Sports Therapists was formed and one of the key principles on which it was founded is inherent within the philosophies of the organisation and its educational competencies. Consequently, the concerns that the Society had in 1990 regarding the number of sports participants requiring basic lifesaving interventions are just as relevant today.
There have been many incidents reported where young sports participants have collapsed and sadly died whilst exercising. This has frequently highlighted the need for, and importance of, cardiac screening which in the past few weeks has received increased publicity in the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, however, not everyone can have this screening, so the risks are there for anyone who participates in sport and exercise and regardless of whether they have any knowledge of underlying cardiac conditions. If there is a risk, then along with prevention (if possible), treatment when incidents occur must be a priority.
Research has shown that if the correct measures and interventions are applied immediately, then the consequences can be minimised. However, this only applies if appropriately trained people are there to immediately apply the basic lifesaving skills that are necessary and applicable.
I acknowledge that not every sporting event or exercise activity can have a medical practitioner, Sports Therapist or dedicated First Aider there. However, all will have referees, umpires, coaches and possibly supporters present. Therefore, why can’t one of these be appropriately trained and qualified to do Basic Life Support (BLS) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)?
I will never understand why every Governing Body in sport does not make it mandatory for every coach or referee to be trained and qualified in these basic skills. Too often it is the coach or referee who is the only adult present; therefore surely they have a responsibility to be able to save a life if necessary and possible.
Cardiac screening, where feasible and available, can and does minimise the risks but, additionally, appropriate training in BLS and CPR can dramatically reduce the potentially fatal consequences.
This is why The Society of Sports Therapists requires all of its Members to not only be trained and qualified in BLS and CPR, but to prove, on an annual basis, the ongoing validity of their training.
Professor Graham N. Smith