Tonight, Wales will be continuing their 6 Nations campaign with a crucial match against France at the Millennium Stadium. As usual, the Lubas Medical team will be pitchside, ready to provide paramedic support to any players who need it. To give you an idea of what we do on a match day, we thought we’d talk about our role in the last big Welsh rugby match: the 6 Nations opener against Italy on Saturday the 1st of February.
Whenever there’s a big game at the stadium (and as far as Cardiff is concerned, they don’t come much bigger than international rugby), we have to arrive a solid 2 hours before kickoff – partially because we need time to set up, but also because the roads would be closed if we left it any later!
Once we’d zig-zagged through the crowds and made it to the stadium, our first job on Saturday afternoon was to set up the players’ medical room. This is where the lads end up if their injuries require more medical attention than we can properly provide out there on the turf. For example, if a player looks like he might have broken something, we’ll stretcher him off to the medical room, where his injury can be properly assessed.
The Millennium Stadium’s medical room contains four beds, and it’s kitted out with all the monitoring equipment that you’d need to keep track of a player’s blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level. After we’ve carried a player to the medical room, we’ll usually leave him in the hands of a doctor who specialises in the issue at hand – we need to get back to the pitch ASAP in case there’s another injury!
Once the medical room is ready to go, we head out to the pitch and start getting our kit ready for the match. Paramedics need to have a dizzying array of equipment to hand at all times, including (but not limited to):
- Spinal boards with straps to carry off players with suspected spinal injuries
- Splints for fractures
- Entonox (painkilling gas)
- Cervical collars for neck injuries
- Portable O2 cylinders
- Breathing equipment
- Suction units (to remove debris or blood from the mouth of an unconscious player)
- Assorted drugs and needles
Not only do we have to check that all of this equipment is present and accounted for, but we also have to introduce ourselves to the visiting team’s doctor and physio. We bust through language barriers (not to mention bitter sporting rivalries) to agree on how we’ll respond in the event of an injury. After all, we’re there to treat the Italian players as well.
By the time we’ve done all of that, it’s more or less time for the kickoff. The atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium is always utterly electric, and Saturday was no exception – everyone was thrilled to see the Dragons back in action, and the pre-match male voice choir had us all feeling very fired-up and patriotic. You haven’t heard Bread of Heaven until you’ve heard it sung by a stadium’s worth of Welsh rugby fans!
The game itself was hardly a classic – most of the pundits were forecasting some sort of demolition job, with Wales putting 50 points or more past the Italians, but the victory wasn’t all that emphatic in the end. 23-15 isn’t the scoreline you expect to see when the reigning champions play the rank outsiders! Still, let’s look on the bright side: a win is a win, and however scrappy those eighty minutes were, there weren’t any major injuries for us to deal with.
In case you’re wondering how we spent the match, well, we’ll try to give you a rough idea. The four of us are split between the two benches, and we have to watch the action like hawks, keeping our eyes peeled for potential injuries. Again, the Italy game was pretty quiet on the injury front, but that doesn’t mean we were able to just relax and enjoy ourselves. We need to stay alert at all times; rugby is a fast-paced game, and it’s crucial that paramedics spot casualties as soon as they happen!
At any rate, it was an electrifying afternoon in the Welsh capital and a solid two points for the boys in red. It’s a shame they couldn’t do the same in Dublin, but perhaps tonight’s game will be more successful…