WITH the traditional winter contact sports well into their seasons, the Ambulance Service of NSW is reminding players and officials to ensure they have the proper protocols in place to minimise and treat sporting injuries.
The call comes after a recent spike in ambulance call outs to sporting fields. Between 8.30am and 7.30pm on Saturday, May 17, the ambulance service responded to 124 call outs across NSW for sports injuries such as fractured limbs, dislocations, spinal injuries and loss of consciousness.
Of particular concern to paramedics is how head and spinal cord injuries are treated by players and officials.
"You go back to the basics of first aid - airway, breathing and circulation in association with concern for spinal injury. You have to make sure the airway remains open; that the person is breathing and has a pulse," NSW Ambulance director education Alan Morrison said.
"The patient must be kept warm and still - any movement without an assessment by a health professional can lead to further damage.
"It's not OK to get knocked out and say it's 'just concussion'. There have been cases where people have said this and ended up with a serious head injury."
While ambulance officers may have concerns with how injuries are being treated, current Group 7 rugby league and NSW Country Bulls head trainer Dave Burge said most sporting bodies were doing their best to protect players.
"In the past 10 years, especially in rugby league, there's been some big changes in sports medicine in how we try and treat and recover from injuries and over the last couple of years in particular there's been a big focus on concussion," Mr Burge said.
"If you look across most junior leagues now, if a child receives a head knock notification form they can't play for at least two weeks and they have to be cleared for return by a medical professional. That's a big change from when a kid might get knocked out on a Saturday and play again on the Sunday.
"Most clubs, coaches and controlling bodies recognise they need to protect their players, the biggest issue really is parents who will say it's only a head knock and want to put their kid back out there."
While Mr Burge believes sporting bodies are doing their best to mitigate head injuries, he does believe other potential serious injuries need to be addressed.
"We are seeing different sorts of injuries ... I'm pushing for the third-man in to be made illegal in junior football."