I graduated from Dundee university, Scotland in 1996 and came to Australia in 1998.
I initially worked in Fremantle hospital as an RMO in emergency, and fairly quickly found that I enjoyed the fast paced, quick thinking environment. I was promoted to Registrar in 1999 and as part of this did terms in Chest medicine, Neurology and Intensive care prior to returning to Emergency.
In 2001 I joined the College of Emergency Medicine, and completed my initial exams in 2002 at first attempt.
The Emergency training involves both a minimum time in emergency and other specialities. As part of training I did more intensive care, paediatrics and Diving medicine.
I qualified as a specialist in emergency medicine in 2007, and have worked in Joondalup, Bunbury, St John of God and Peel since.
I am currently still at Bunbury Emergency dept, and enjoy working in a functional well run department with high morale. I am also director of Emergency Medicine Education and Training for all peripheral hospitals in the South-West region, which I also enjoy greatly.
I have been involved in sports medicine since playing rugby in University, and continued that in Western Australia with the premier rugby club in WA, “Associates”. I sporadically did events for Sports Medicine Australia for many years, and in 2007 was asked to do and amateur boxing event. This sparked an renewed interest I had in combat sports from a young age. From then I was asked to do further amateur, professional boxing and Muay Thai events, and the rest is, as they say, history. I have been privileged to be the medical coverage for many State, Australian and World title events in WA in both Boxing and Muay Thai.
Safety of competitors
I feel that the safety of the competitors is the foremost concern of mine. I also feel that the reputation of combat sports both among competitors, officials, spectators and the general public is of high importance. These concerns should always go hand in hand. I feel that sports engendering a healthy active lifestyle with good competition and values can only be supported and encouraged.
During the events I do a pre-flight medical and check blood serologies usually at the weigh in. This is a necessary requisition to ensure competitors are not at undue risk of injury, and by transmissible disease, not infectious to other competitors.
I feel there will also be a time that random drug testing will be the norm to ensure a level playing field, although this is not in effect at present. I like to see the fighters just before the fight itself, just to say hello and see if they have any concerns.
During the bouts
During the fights there is generally good communication between myself and the referee with regard to injuries or timing of stopping fights. While the referee can stop the fight, he is obligated to follow the doctors recommendation. Fortunately, we tend to be on the same page with regard to stoppages, and thus it is rare that I would have to alert the referee for an injury concern. There are always things that can be seen in the ring that can’t be seen outside it, and vice versa, which makes an extra set of eyes outside the ring beneficial. Dislocated shoulders, elbows etc. can go unnoticed in the ring, especially with the analgesic effect of adrenaline on the competitor during a fight. I have a horn to alert the referee should this situation occur.
Cuts can be a margin call, but generally a cut that with interferes with the fighters ability to defend him (or her)self, or a cut that, if progresses could cause significant injury would stop the fight. Most other cuts should not stop fights, especially small cuts on the outside of the eyebrow. These are the most common by far.
Generally, if a fighter is taking too much punishment then I would expect the referee to make the call to stop the fight.
I have only on occasion felt it necessary to intervene to alert the referee to the likelihood of significant permanent head injury, and advised the contest be ceased. This is always a hard call, especially when you know fighters over a number of years and see them progress. In this case it is better to ensure their health above anything else, and while they are disappointed, tend to accept the decision with gratitude.
After the bouts
In any cases of head injury I always like to follow up to ensure recovery. This may mean referral to hospital or advice regarding observation and a follow up call. With any of these cases, the health is most important, but also the reputation of combat sports is at risk.
MMA Cage ban in WA
In addition to Boxing and Muay thai, I have also been the medical coverage for MMA events in WA. Unfortunately the Minister or Sport and Recreation, Terry Waldron, has seen it fit to ban the fenced enclosure. This is one of the most important safety features of a 3 dimensional sport, and I find the decision ludicrous.
Combat sports hold a high regard with me. I see competitors who have and display honour, discipline and respect. I see a sport where as a competitor, there is nowhere to run, nothing to hide behind, and that if you haven’t done the work, you will be exposed, and there no short cuts to this. Conversely, if you have put in the work, it will be apparent.
I see apologies when there is a foul blow, and respect for officials. I see grace in defeat and humility in victory. I see two blokes sitting down with each other after a fight having a beer together, and this affirms my view that this is a sport, and so far removed from the violence seen on the street. With these qualities shown both inside and outside the ring I find it both a pleasure and an honour to work in the sport.
In contrast to this, I have seen players in other sports show utter disregard and abuse of officials, other players and the public, especially by the highly regarded sports in WA such as AFL and soccer, and find it disgusting. Unfortunately, this tends not to stay on the pitch and the youth of today looking at these sports, idolised by the majority, soon adopt these practices. This is of course, a generalisation, and there are exceptions both in players of these sports and similar sports. Fortunately, for the most part, rugby seems to be on the right path.
I would say the most memorable part of combat sports is meeting and becoming friends with some truly good people. While the big hype events are fun, it is the people and the qualities they show that, I am most honoured to be a part of. I will hope that my young son will also be involved, as I think we could all learn many of the qualities that combat sports engender.