The Samoa Red Cross Society said if they were present at the Taula Apia Rugby Union match between Vaimoso HJ Keil and Vailele, there’s a chance Vaimoso blindside flanker Faiva Tagatauli could still be alive.
The 27 year old died on Thursday morning, having been hospitalised after a head injury sustained during the game at Tuanaimato on Saturday afternoon.
Samoa Red Cross Society health manager Goretti Wulf said with instant care and identification of what had happened to Tagatauli, his life might have been saved.
“The ambulance could get there in whatever time, but if the care was given on the spot, it would’ve made a lot of difference as well.”
She said injuries are highly likely in sports like rugby, and normally the Red Cross will be on standby to help out at events like Saturday’s.
“For these games they always write out a letter of request or they call, then we send out our teams.”
But the Samoa Red Cross Society have received no such request from the Taula Apia Rugby Union this season.
Last weekend was the second round of the year, with Red Cross first-aiders absent at both weeks of club rugby so far.
Samoa Observer has contacted the Apia Rugby Union for comment on matters of player safety both general and specific, but is yet to receive a response.
Samoa Red Cross Society disaster manager Isara Iose Jr. said safety needs to be considered over all other aspects of the sport in terms of funding.
“We didn’t get any notice the season was about to start, no ‘here are the schedules, we need your support’.
“This latest incident has raised a lot of eyebrows among the public.”
He said he hopes this serves as a wake-up call to the rugby public.
Because the Red Cross have just one ambulance, they often work with the Fire and Emergency Services Authority to ensure all events are covered.
That ambulance was present at the Lefaga Sevens tournament on Saturday, because they requested it.
Wulf said they’ve been dealing with head injuries in the sport since long before World Rugby brought in new rules and regulations around it like the Head Injury Assessment process.
“It’s not a new thing, for as long as I can remember we’ve been asking [the unions] to send their coaches and whoever from each club to be trained in first aid.
“This is something, the sports clubs, with us, should all come together with an agreement or training or something so we can look at filling this gap.”
She said so far no incidents have resulted in death while the Red Cross has been present at an event.
Iose Jr. said even with the training being given to representatives from each club, the Samoa Red Cross Society think it’s better to have their own team present that they can brief every Saturday.
“If we are not there to witness how something happened, it’s hard to work out what sort of treatment to put into place.
“That’s why you need first-aiders on the ground, on the field, so they can monitor the situation.
“Second aid can’t do anything if first aid is not there.”
He said it’s not up to any one body, but every stakeholder to make sports safer.