Behind the scenes of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games,
more than 1500 medical volunteers—part of a 15,000 strong volunteer
workforce—were in action. The medical team was spread over the
field of play, in medical facilities at each competition site, and with
individual teams, undertaking athlete care and spectator care to
ensure events ran smoothly for all athletes, officials and spectators.
The application process for the medical teams started early in 2017
and was extensive, and sought prior experience with sporting teams
and previous sporting events to ensure the needs of each medical
and sporting site were met. Volunteers were placed in areas of
experience where possible.
Physiotherapists with titling in sports and musculoskeletal and with
experience in sporting teams were given priority for team and athlete
care roles, particularly for sites with sports with higher likelihood of
medical needs. All medical volunteers attended role-specific training
together in the lead up to the event and then venue-specific training
for familiarity of venue and sport.
For the duration of the Games, lecturer at The University of
Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Dr Roma Forbes, APAM, was placed at the Gold Coast Hockey
Centre and at the Oxenford precinct, which hosted boxing,
table tennis and squash.
‘The application process allowed me to outline my previous
experience in physiotherapy in hockey and squash, and my
availability over the Games period. The university mid-semester
break fell with the timing of the Games, which meant it was a
great opportunity for staff to be involved and our students from
The University of Queensland to take on other volunteer roles,’
Doctors, sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapists, nurses,
emergency staff, massage therapists, optometrists, dentists and
other healthcare professionals provided more than 84,000 medical
volunteer hours within 50 medical facilities and 24 sporting venues,
as well as training venues in the weeks leading up to the Games.
‘As a lecturer, this was a great change of scene for me to be on
the frontline, helping athletes who had spent months, if not years,
preparing for this event, working in a large dynamic team and
getting to experience the atmosphere of the Games first-hand,’
‘The organisation required for managing these multiple medical
teams rostered over the days with different roles at each site took
months of preparation. Physiotherapists were just one part of the
large medical teams located at each site.
‘Our team consisted of at least two doctors at any one time—one
on the field of play, one within the medical facility onsite, and often
another on roving duties with emergency personnel volunteers
across the venue,’ Roma says.
‘A physiotherapist on the field of play across the day and one within
the medical facility also meant both athletes and spectators could
always seek medical assistance. Nursing and paramedic volunteers
were also onsite at all times within the spectator first aid tent
and roving around the venue. Radio access between all medical
volunteers, coordinated by a communications volunteer, ensured
everyone had immediate help.’
As for emergencies, there were a few. ‘The doctors were certainly
kept busy with suturing from ball-versus-head incidences,’ Roma
says. ‘And the ball boys and girls caught their fair share, too.’