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First aiders need to raise their game

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First aiders to youth football league clubs must raise their knowledge and standards to provide proper safeguards for players. Results disclosed by a preliminary survey prompt its author to call for the Football Association (FA)—UK football’s governing body—and the Health and Safety Executive to list first aid equipment, facilities, and qualified staff for clubs to access.

Thirty four percent (86/250) of first aiders responded to the questionnaire. Almost three quarters of them had been involved in football for up to 10 years, and half with the 8–11 year age group, but 60% had no current first aid qualification. Their responses to a range of hypothetical injury scenarios was patchy—and holding a current qualification did not guarantee a correct answer. Three quarters did not judge themselves competent to cope with a diabetic attack, and around half an asthma attack, epileptic fit, or a fracture. Respondents judged the equipment available at games and training sessions as satisfactory, even though various items that should be standard were lacking. About 40% kept health records on the players but only 19% kept injury reports. Written parental consent to emergency treatment was held by only 30%.

The questionnaire, with a letter of explanation, was sent to clubs in two youth football leagues—in the midlands and northern England—to be forwarded to the club’s first aider.

Neither the FA, nor Sports Coach UK, in its code of ethics and conduct, requires a sports first aid qualification. Nevertheless, UK law places liability with both the first aider and the club.

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