Clubs stepping up their game in first aid

  • Life-saving skills: Burt, the Red Cross instructor, trains volunteers how to work AED machines at the its headquarters in Paget

The Bermuda Football Association is working with Bermuda Red Cross to help the domestic clubs “up their game” in first-aid treatment and CPR.

Representatives from Boulevard, Ireland Rangers, Hamilton Parish, North Village, PHC Zebras, Somerset Trojans, Wolves and the Bermuda Referees Association have all successfully completed their training since the initiative started late last year.

The scheme is the brainchild of Diane Gordon, the disaster manager at Bermuda Red Cross, who was inspired by the British Red Cross’s “Up Your Game” programme, which was launched last summer to encourage an increasingly active public to learn about first aid.

The campaign aims to encourage sportspeople, volunteers and coaches to learn first-aid skills and gain the confidence to act in an emergency.

Mark Wade, the BFA president, said that all of the local clubs will need to have staff trained in first aid and CPR before they can be issued with new BFA licences.

“Last year, we sent a survey to the clubs to find out whose constitution was up to date, who had offices, who had financial reports, and how many first-aid trained people each had on their executives,” said Wade, who wants all of the clubs to have staff trained by the end of the year.

“Since receiving the responses, we have developed a criteria for being a member of the Bermuda Football Association. One of the requirements is for each club to have first-aid-trained people on the coaching and administration side.

“The clubs will be given time to get up to speed. We don’t want it to be punitive as we want them to buy into the idea of it.”

Gordon first raised the idea with Larry Mussenden, the previous BFA president, and spoke to the 23 affiliates about the initiative at the annual general meeting at Devonshire Recreation Club in September.

Wade said that he was encouraged by the response of the clubs over the past few months.

“This initiative is very timely and a lot of the clubs have jumped on it,” he said.

“To have made this much progress in such as short period of time is exciting for us. The next thing is to get AED [automated external defibrillators] to all of our field operators as well.”

Gordon said it is the responsibility of the clubs to be able to respond to first-aid emergencies and provide a safe environment for players, coaches and spectators.

She also stressed that in the event of an injury or accident, having a sufficient amount of first-aid and CPR-trained club staff could be the difference between life and death.

“Although the clubs aren’t responsible for the communities they are responsible for their members,” said Gordon, who hopes to roll out the programme to other sporting bodies on the island.

“We need to make the clubs understand that these prevention measures are going to help them in the long run.

“We understand that all of the clubs are not equal and it may be more difficult for one than another [depending on their facilities]. However, it’s not difficult to give individuals training.”

Gordon added that Bermuda Red Cross would be holding further first aid and CPR sessions this year and urged the remaining clubs to sign up for training.

“We’re looking at the key players — the coaches and medical staff,” Gordon said. “We’re targeting the males at the clubs.”

Craig Burt, a Red Cross instructor, has trained 14 people involved with the clubs since the start of the programme.

He said the certification included no written tests and involved seven to eight hours of practical training.

“We teach the lay person first aid, CPR, how to use the AEDs, and how to utilise those skills before medical personnel arrive on the scene and take over,” he said.

“We know people don’t like written tests as it puts them under pressure. We base our training on a practical skill set and prompt them on the various skill sets that they’ve learnt.”