General Emergency

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12 Lessons

Significant medical and orthopaedic emergencies are relatively rare in a football environment. They do, however, occur and clinicians and event organisers must be prepared to manage these conditions. An awareness of the more common conditions and a plan to manage these appropriately is essential.

Medical emergencies should always be managed along the lines of existing protocols, with attention to the patient’s airway, breathing and circulation. The management of some of these conditions in a football context requires specific protocols.

Emergency medical conditions which may occur on the field of play include:


  • Acute anaphylaxis
  • Acute asthma
  • Acute chest pain
  • Dehydration
  • Dental injuries
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Head injury
  • Heat-related emergencies
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Spinal injury
  • Sudden cardiac arrest

The management of cardiac conditions, including sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), are not considered in this module. To learn more about these conditions please review the cardiology and SCA modules. The management of hypoglycaemia (diabetes module) and asthma (respiratory module) are also not specifically addressed in this module. The team care and event management modules also review how one might prepare to manage a medical emergency involving a player, spectator or official.

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this module you should:

  • be able to develop an action plan for the management of a medical or musculoskeletal emergency;
  • have an understanding of the common causes of medical emergencies on the field of play;
  • be able to appropriately identify the common causes of medical emergencies on the field of play and initiate an appropriate management plan;
  • be able to appropriately identify fractures and dislocations on the field of play and manage them appropriately;
  • be able to manage a player who is suspected of having a cervical spine injury, including how to immobilise and transport them; and
  • understand when to refer a player or spectator for an urgent hospital assessment.


  • Review the module content and complete the “required reading”.
  • Complete a basic life support CPR certification from any organisation registered with your national Resuscitation Council or equivalent approved body.
  • Complete the case-based assessment task.


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