Scottish Rugby launches ‘lifesaving’ First Responder course for the grassroots game

Scottish Rugby launches ‘lifesaving’ First Responder course for the grassroots game

Following on from the launch of Scottish Rugby’s Player Welfare Action Plan for the domestic game, a new First Responder course has been created and is now available for the rugby community to undertake.

The online course has been designed by Scottish Rugby’s Welfare Manager, Dr Karen Barclay and Scottish Rugby’s wider medical team and aims to help people understand basic principles in delivering assistance in the event of a serious injury or illness until more skilled help arrives, which Dr Barclay describes as ‘lifesaving skills’.

“Whilst the course does not replace first aid training, it aims to help bystanders within the grassroots game recognise when an immediate response is required to keep a player safe”, said Dr Barclay.

“Whilst incidents such as cardiac arrest or neck injuries are mercifully rare in our game, they do occur, and it is vital that bystanders have the skills to be able to provide support until skilled help arrives. These skills and practices can and do save lives.”

There are seven modules within the course including neck and spinal care, significant limb injuries and cardiac arrest.

As part of the cardiac arrest module, former Scotland and British & Irish Lions captain, Gavin Hastings has taken part in a video with Dr Barclay on how to deliver Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

Speaking about his involvement in the module, Gavin said: “Prior to working with Karen on this module, I had limited knowledge about how to deliver CPR but learning is very easy, and it doesn’t take long.

“By teaming up with Scottish Rugby for this module, I hope we can inspire our rugby community to take the time to learn these vital skills, amongst the many others included in the wider course. The message is simple – take this course and turn yourself into a potential life saver, you never know when you might be called upon to help save a life.”

In July 2021, Hamish Bell (now 22-years-old) suffered a cardiac arrest whilst training with Blairgowrie RFC.

Welcoming the course, Hamish said: “At the time of my cardiac arrest I was a young, fit and active lad enjoying a bit of rugby with my mates. It started with pain in my chest and then I had a fit. I can’t clearly recall what happened, the last thing I remember is putting my water bottle down, and then I woke up in the hospital.”

Whilst Hamish is no longer able to play rugby after having an S-ICD (Subcutaneous Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) fitted, Hamish recognises the outcome could have been very different if not for his team-mates, adding: “If it wasn’t for the quick reaction from my team-mates who knew how to deliver CPR and use a defibrillator before an ambulance arrived, it could have been a very different story for me.

“If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone, so I’d encourage anyone in the grassroots game – whether you’re a coach, match official, player or spectators – to take this course. Everyone has a role to play when it comes to player welfare, and having the skills and knowledge to react to any serious incident is everyone’s responsibility.”

The course is suitable for players, coaches, spectators, families and carers and requires no previous experience, and forms the first step in Scottish Rugby’s First Aid Educational Pathway.

To take the course, click HERE.

To find out more about Scottish Rugby’s First Aid Educational Pathway, click HERE.

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