Footy First Aid – Also Good for All Sports First Aiders!

It’s hard to believe but Footy season is nearly here again already.  No matter which code you follow, it can be an exciting time.

You may even be getting ready to help out at your local club, providing the volunteer support that keeps them going. Give yourself a sporting chance if you need to provide first aid for the players who may be the ones who make the difference to the results!

But for first aiders it can also be a challenging time!  Why?

Footy Season throws up two particular challenges:
  1. It brings out the hero in players who want to play through the pain
  2. Presents its own set of common injuries you mayneed to deal with
Let’s look more closely at how to deal with these challenges.

Helping the Heroes

When the footy starts, that’s when all the good work educating kids and adults about what to do when they hurt themselves goes out the window. It only takes the first “heroic” professional player to “play through the pain” and players and fans alike can start to think that they should do the same thing.

Soon little injuries can become more serious. And unlike the professionals, most of us don’t have someone to pay our medical bills if it’s really bad. Or we’re not covered adequately.

It can be hard to tell a player they have to stop and rest for the sake of their body. But it’s important to remember one of the key principles of first aid is to prevent further injury.

Take a sprained ankle as an example. With proper treatment (see below) even a quite painful strain can recover well, with no long term effects. However if you let a player play through the pain and carry on it can result in two serious negative effects:

  • Compounding the injury – If they play on a damaged ankle there is a high risk of the same injury happening again and worse. This means it could go from a little pain to severe pain very quickly.
  • Increases the recovery time – How a sprain is treated in the first 24 hours has a big effect on recovery time, sometimes meaning it can take a month or more longer to recover! Is playing the last five minutes of a game worth missing an extra month’s worth of game time?

There are good reasons for being firm with injured players. It’s the responsibility of a good first aider to take charge and do everything they can to protect the casualty and prevent further injury

Common Football injuries

Below are some common injuries:

  • Sprains, strains and bruises
  • Head injuries
  • Minor Cuts

We will look at the risks involved and the best treatment you can provide. This isn’t an exhaustive list but it will help you prepare for footy first aid this season.


Delayed treatment of soft tissue injuries can greatly increase the pain and recovery time
Best treatment 
Sprains and Strains – R.I.C.E. Rest the injured limb in a comfortable position. Apply an Ice Pack to the injured area. Apply a compression bandage and Elevate the injured limb.
Bruises – Apply Ice to reduce any swelling and pain.  Support the injured area in the position of greatest comfort.


Head injuries should always be treated as serious. They can lead to concussion or compression, both of which have potentially serious consequences, including altered consciousness and death.

Best Treatment
If the injury has altered their conscious state, even for just a moment, take the casualty to a hospital or call an ambulance. Signs to look for include:

  • Severe headache
  • Deformation of the skull
  • Leaking fluid from nose or ears
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance or co-ordination
  • Unequal pupils
  • Loss of short term memory – particularly if they cannot remember how they were injured
  • Dazed and confused

You should also treat any external bleeding. (See below)


Small cuts can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause infection. They can also be a transmission point for blood borne pathogens creating a risk for both the casualty and the other players if the wound is not cleaned properly

Best Treatment

  1. Cleanse the wound – Gently wash with mild soapy water to clean out. Lift up and clean under any flaps of skin. Rinse with plenty of clean water
  2. Cleanse the skin around the wound – As with the wound itself, wash thoroughly and rinse around the wound
  3. Protect the wound – cover the wound with an appropriate sterile dressing and bandage.For more tips on treating injuries download our ‘handy hints’ here

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