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ER24 provides world-class medical assistance across all levels of rugby in South Africa. Players who suffer concussions must be managed appropriately to prevent further brain injury.

“Among ER24’s core values is that we’re ‘Team orientated’ – and the game of rugby provides an analogy for how working together can help everyone achieve the best end goal,” says Heinrich Africa, ER24’s Clinical Performance Operations Specialist.

“We provide medical standby at big rugby matches for teams such as DHL Stormers, Vodacom Blue Bulls, Cell C Sharks, at CPT SVNS (Cape Town 7s), and international matches played in South Africa. We also provide medical standby at high school and university games to ensure our future stars are well looked after at this level.”

Specialist training

ER24 crews undergo specific training and accreditation courses as required by World Rugby. They receive targeted training in managing medical emergencies that may occur during a rugby match. “Part of this training involves recognising emergencies, such as concussion, and the protocol to safeguard the patient. In addition, training drills relating to spinal immobilisation and other scenarios are carried out before each match,” says Africa. “This is to ensure each team member knows their roles and responsibilities on game day and that we’re ready when needed. Most importantly, we provide care that prioritises player safety in a medical emergency, such as concussion.”

Part of the BokSmart team

ER24 also plays an integral role in BokSmart, a national rugby safety programme that educates coaches and referees. We operate the BokSmart Spineline and road transport service, available to rugby players who sustain serious concussions or head, neck, and spine injuries, either during a match or practice.

“The focal points for BokSmart are injury prevention, injury management, rugby safety and player performance,” explains Africa. “The programme teaches coaches and referees best practices and medical protocols for player safety.”

Rugby players of all levels run the risk of concussion, a traumatic brain injury resulting in a disturbance of brain function. “Symptoms of concussion can present at any time but normally show in the first 48 hours following a head injury. Concussion doesn’t necessarily mean you lose consciousness,” he adds. Athletes who have suffered two or more concussions within a year may take longer to recover and are at risk of further brain injury. 

Common signs of concussion

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Memory disturbance
  • Balance problems.

BokSmart protocols dictate that any athlete with a suspected concussion should be immediately removed from play, using appropriate emergency management procedures. They shouldn’t return to any activity that day until being assessed medically. If a neck injury is suspected, the player should only be removed by emergency healthcare professionals with appropriate spinal care training.

Call the BokSmart Spineline and road transport service on 0800 678 678 in the event of a rugby player sustaining a serious concussion, or head, neck, and spine injuries during either a match or practice. ER24 will provide road transport of the injured player to a suitable medical facility.

Are you planning a sporting event? Click here for ER24 Event Medical Solutions that meet your needs. We ensure you have the appropriate expert emergency medical service personnel on duty to comply with health and safety legislation.