As sports continues to grow in Barbados and the Caribbean, I am still very disappointed in the lack of support provided for athletes and players. Without them there would be no sport to be played, viewed or enjoyed. While I appreciate that there are varying levels of sport participation, for example, junior, senior, intermediate, club, national, international, leisure – the level of basic support needs given to athletes should be of a particular standard. Athletes should have access to good equipment, good training facilities, good coaches and more importantly good access to medical support.
Injury in sport is inevitable, from a simple blister, to contact injuries, to overuse injuries, to sprains & strains to more serious concussion, fractures or cardiac arrest- athletes are predisposed to many of these simply from participating in sport.
Quite recently I witnessed a rather unfortunate event which cemented in my mind that these injury risks in sports are still not taken as seriously as they should be.
While sitting watching a local football match, I witnessed a player fall and exclaim “AHHHH my hand brek, my hand brek!”. I immediately rose from my seat and starred in anticipation of how the player would be managed (the physio in me was ready to scale the fence and run onto the pitch, however in this instance I was merely a spectator). The linesman disregarded this players’ exclamation and obvious gripe and writhing and rolling in pain on the ground and waited a total of 10 seconds (count 10 seconds now- 1, 1000, 2, 1000…x10) before flagging the referee and pausing the game.
All the while I can see from my view in the stands a player in obvious distress with a possibly fractured and dislocated elbow. After finally stopping the game, the “medic” ran onto the field carrying a small cooler and medical bag and approached the player cautiously. In my opinion she appeared to be afraid and unsure of what to do and soon called for the EMTs to bring the stretcher onto the pitch. At this time my anger began rapidly increasing as 2-5mins had now passed and no one made any effort to splint or stabilise the players dislocated elbow. While understanding the lack of availability of splints, the simple and BASIC method of using the players shirt to tuck and support his arm was not employed (clear indication of lack of knowledge of the medical personnel). Much to my dismay the player was transferred onto the stretcher with his elbow unstable. I then returned to my seat with my hands shaking in disbelief and feeling uneasy for the player in tremendous pain. I then watched as the ambulance sat for a further 10 minutes before departing.
Now there are many things I believe went wrong here however the final conclusion of this post is WE NEED TO PROVIDE BETTER MEDICAL SUPPORT FOR PLAYERS & ATHLETES PERIOD! Whether paid, unpaid, volunteer or not the medical team/person on any sport bench is THE one of the most critical person/s!
Football in Barbados in particular is known for having “medics” as their medical support, however they are almost never qualified to handle or assess injuries. I am tired seeing these medics rush onto fields and without question or assessment apply cold spray to any injury or problem. A player has cramp- cold spray, contact injury- cold spray, concussion…
I am therefore making a bold and public plea to all involved to do better.
ATTENTION SPORTING ASSOCIATIONS/ FEDERATIONS (to name a few)
The Barbados Olympic Association
The Barbados Sports Medicine Association
The Barbados Physical Therapy Association
The Barbados Defense Force
The Barbados Football Association
The Barbados Hockey Federation
The Barbados Rugby Football Union
The Barbados Netball Association
The Athletics Association of Barbados
Persons sitting on any sideline should have an up to date Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, knowledge of the sport and common injuries associated, basic emergency response training and proper immobilisation techniques. In addition, all associations/ federations should have a written Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for clear instructions of emergency procedures. Email Marita Marshall (sports physiotherapist) at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to establish this if you don’t already have one for your team/ association.