P.E.I. health-care professionals trained as sport first responders

·4 min read
In this scenario, the sport first responders are dealing with a potenial spinal injury during a hockey game.   (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
In this scenario, the sport first responders are dealing with a potenial spinal injury during a hockey game. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

A dozen health-care professionals on P.E.I. spent their weekend becoming certified as sport first responders.

The training gives them the skills to offer emergency sideline care at sporting events, dealing with scenarios such as spinal injuries, life-threatening blood loss and head trauma.

"The certification permits the health professional, who is really well trained in a clinical context, to be able to perform with efficiency in the field context," said Christian Seguin, a specialist in sports physiotherapy from Cornwall, Ont.

"Adding the emergency component of intervention, in order to respond to a soccer injury, or football injury, or rugby injury, which is a little bit more sports specific."

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

"Health professionals are often called to follow teams or can cover events such as the Canada Games coming up. And at each sport venue, there's typically somebody that's trained at the higher sport level," Seguin said.

"We'd be the first response, or the first step before the paramedics comes in."

Hands-on training

Seguin said the hands-on training takes participants through a wide range of scenarios from many sports.

"Anything from airway management, to cardiovascular, emergency CPR, but we will take it a step further," Seguin said.

"Looking at sports-specific injury, looking at trauma in cycling, trauma in rugby and football, looking at life-threatening injury in speed skating, concussion in either speed skating or bobsledding."

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Seguin said he has seen many of scenarios like that during his time in the field.

"Concussions, spinals. I've covered football and we had a few spinals," Seguin said. "Fractures. Lacerations in speed skating. I guess we see a little bit of everything."

I've covered football and we had a few spinals. Fractures. Lacerations in speed skating. I guess we see a little bit of everything.
—Christian Seguin, Sport Physiotherapy Canada

Randy Goodman is a clinical specialist in sports physiotherapy, and a registered international sports physiotherapist based in Charlottetown.

He has been involved in multiple international sporting events including world championships, the Pan American Games and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

"Some of these practitioners might go on to where we went, which is, you know, on to nationals or international or Olympic events," Goodman said.

"But I think it's more important for [amateur sport] like the midget hockey, so that if someone does get hurt, there's someone experienced and can help in that situation. It's safe and efficient and the person is taken care of properly."

'Raise the bar'

Goodman also recently helped to create the Athlete Health and Performance Program for Sport P.E.I..

It's a network of sport health and science professionals who support developing athletes and coaches on the Island.

He said one of the goals of the program was increasing the skill level of those professionals.

"We have a lot of really good practitioners on the Island, but a lot of them haven't had real formal training in sport first responder on the field," Goodman said.

"It's going to raise the bar for even minor sports on the Island, because then you're going to have more trained first responders on the field covering teams, which then they can react to a situation that happens on the field in an educated and practiced manner."

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Goodman said Canada Games organizers will bring some specialized staff to the competition in February 2023, but he hopes some of this weekend's group will also volunteer.

"It creates a roster of volunteers. Canada Games will bring in some certified sports physios and chiropractors as well," Goodman said.

"But this just gives us more local talent."

Goodman said he already has a waiting list of people interested in taking the sport first responders course the next time it's offered.

More prepared

Chiropractor Chris McCarthy, from Summerside, attended the weekend training.

He volunteers at different sporting events and sport teams across P.E.I., and plans to help at the Canada Games.

"The clinical setting is completely different than being on a sideline at sporting events," McCarthy said.

"It's not as controlled an environment when you're at the sports field."

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

McCarthy said he has experienced firsthand some of the scenarios taught in the course.

"There's been dislocations, fractures, lacerations, concussions, loss of consciousness," McCarthy said.

"The more that you can do the scenarios in practice, real life type scenarios, the more prepared you're going to be — and the better you're going to be able to execute in emergencies."

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