Safety in the Playing Environment

Because of the diversity and demographic vastness in South Africa, most levels outside the semi-professional and professional rugby structures have limited medical support, medical equipment, medical facilities and qualified medical personnel at matches if at all. Coaches and referees therefore frequently have to make important safety decisions on whether a match should take place or not, or how to proceed if an emergency situation presents itself on the field. It is for this reason that BokSmart has developed guidelines for minimum medical standards before a match can take place, and provides a basic medical resource and basic medical training for non-medical personnel in the DVD workshops. In addition it has also developed a ‘rugby’ first aid training program, called the BokSmart Rugby Medic program. The Rugby Medic program provides coaches, referees, players, and any involved person in the rugby community, at the very least, with the primary skills necessary to be able to identify and manage a potentially serious or catastrophic concussion, head, neck, or spine injury.


The focus of the Rugby Medic program is mainly on the disadvantaged and under-resourced areas, which do not have any appropriate equipment, training or medical support. These clubs or schools are often identified by the unions, or can directly request training, and BokSmart, within the constraints of an annual and regionally allocated budget, provides the Rugby Medic training at no cost to these schools or clubs. If the trained rugby club or school do not possess the minimum emergency medical equipment required to appropriately stabilise and support a seriously injured player, and they comply with specific minimum criteria, BokSmart, within the constraints of an annual and regionally allocated budget, provides them with a complete set consisting of a spinal board, cervical collar, spider harness, and head blocks at no cost.


On top of this BokSmart provides a toll-free National emergency telephone helpline called the ‘BokSmart Spineline’ to expedite and fast track the emergency treatment and management of a potentially seriously injured rugby player. The BokSmart Spineline is a dedicated emergency rugby helpline for serious concussion, head, neck and spine injuries. The number (0800 678 678) is linked to a National Emergency Service Provider, ER24, who provides the necessary advice, initial telephonic screen, and dispatches or arranges suitable transportation of the injured player to the nearest or most suitable medical facility as required. Part of the BokSmart training is to educate everyone on the availability of this service.


The BokSmart workshop for coaches and referees also addresses both the emergency identification and management of these injuries, and reinforces the accessibility to the BokSmart Spineline. In this way BokSmart has tried to intervene by providing these different levels of training to non-medical personnel to combat the lack of suitable medical support, equipment and staffing at matches around the country.




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