Robert Myall: Pitch-side First Aid…
As we’ve visited walking football clubs around the country, it seems that most clubs have at least the minimum first aid provision pitch-side at every session to deal safely and effectively with injuries and emergencies that can occur. But that evidence wasn’t everywhere and so we wondered whether a check-list (of sorts) and some guidance where this critical provision is concerned would be useful…
So we asked Bob Myall, a very experienced paramedic and first aider, with a host of football specific experience (he’s ever ready on match days – never far from the action – at Wycombe Wonderers FC), to flag the key first aid provision required when it comes to walking football injuries and emergencies. So Bob, what must we ensure we have in place and be able to deal with at every session.
Walking football is unlikely to cause the injuries seen in football and other sports, but there is always the risk that injury and medical issues can occur, some more serious than others.
So here’s a guide to what you can do to help yourselves and the emergency services, and ensure things go smoothly in the case of an incident…
In the event of a cardiac arrest the best chances of survival for that person is good CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and early defibrillation. Most leisure centres have a defibrillator on site with personnel trained to use it.
The first thing you should do is to send someone to get help, access a defibrillator if available and dial 999.
If you end up having to do CPR on a person, you must check their breathing. Listen and feel for normal breathing for no more than 10 seconds.
In the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest a victim may be barely breathing or taking infrequent slow and noisy gasps do not confuse this with normal breathing, if in doubt treat as not breathing.
Next you should check for a pulse. To do this, place two fingers on the carotid artery in the neck (if you’re unsure where that is try it on yourself for position of the artery). If there is no pulse then you must start CPR.
Start Chest Compressions
- Keep your arms straight
- Do not apply any pressure over the upper abdomen or the bottom end of the bony sternum
- Position your shoulders vertically above the victim’s chest and press down on the sternum to a depth of 5-6cm
- After each compression release all the pressure on the chest without losing contact between your hands and the sternum
- Repeat at the Rate of 100-120 min
- Pinch the soft part of the nose closed using the index finger and thumb
- Take a normal breath and place your lips around the mouth making sure that you have a good seal
- Blow steadily into the mouth while watching the chest to rise, taking about one second as in normal breathing
- Maintain the head tilt and chin lift take your mouth away from the victim and watch for the chest to fall as air comes out
- Do not interrupt compressions by more than 10 seconds to deliver two breaths.
- Ideal Rate for CPR is 30 compressions to two inflations.
If you are unable to give rescue breaths, then just give chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 per min.
Another medical emergency is a stroke. Early treatment offers the best chance of good results for the victim, so recognition of the signs and symptoms are important. The best way to do this is to use FAST.
Face. Has the face drooped to one side? Can the person smile? Has the mouth drooped?
Arms. The victim may not be able to lift both arms or keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
Speech. They may have slurred or garbled speech and may even not be able to talk or form a sentence.
Time. Dial 999. Time is important treatment is normally done at a Hyper-acute stroke Unit.
When you dial 999 make sure that you inform them you think it’s a stroke and give as much information about your location as possible as it reduces the time it takes to find you.
Sprains and Strains
Most Strains and Sprains in sport normally happen in the ankle where a player may go over the ball or twist suddenly, this stretches the ligaments in the ankle and can take a few weeks to settle down.
There will be swelling around the injury and the best treatment is Rest.
For this treatment, an ice pack should be placed on the injured area helps to reduce the swelling. The feet should then be elevated and, if the injury has not got better after seven days, you should consider going to see your GP
Pitch Side Bag
Equipment for your Pitch side bag is a personal choice, but I would consider putting in the following:
- Disposable Ice Packs
- Pocket Face Mask – to use in the event of Cardiac Arrest
- Ankle supports
- Triangular Bandages
As a final thought, I always find it useful as a paramedic to have a good medical information of the victim so a useful way to help is if people have a short medical card. This should include past medical history such as asthma, diabetes, previous surgery, previous strokes, heart attacks, what medications they are on and any allergies.
As well as this, an emergency contact number, your name, address and date of birth should also be present.
This is helpful in the event of the victim being unable to communicate due to the emergency they are suffering.
Further information on cardiac arrests can be found on the resuscitation council website.
Please note that this information has been supplied by Bob to help you recognise the symptoms you should be aware of on the pitch, and does not constitute medical advice. If in any doubt, always dial 999 and request a visit from a medical profession in the first instance.