It has been 50 years since the need for an organized approach to managing sport injuries was identified. In 1965, the Canadian Athletic Trainers Association was founded by a small group of athletic trainers working professional hockey and football teams. They recognized at that time the need to enhance their skills in the management of sport injuries.

In 1975, the association evolved into what is now known as the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA), the new name reflecting a more appropriate image of a professional therapist. Since then the association has grown with provincial chapters and 7 CATA Accredited Athletic Therapy university-based programs across Canada. An 8th program, the first in French, is currently under development at the UQTR in Trois-Rivières, Québec.

In 1982, John Boulay a newly graduated Concordia University (early Exercise Science / Athletic therapy option) student was asked to co-teach with Charlen Berry (another recent grad) a few courses in the newly expanded athletic option. One of these courses was “Emergency Care of Athletic Injuries”. In order to better prepare for the challenge, John enrolled in the Dawson College Paramedic program to become a registered Emergency Medical Technician. After completing his ambulance internships and in order to maintain skill sets, he continued to work part-time with Urgences Santé (Montreal’s ambulance service) for 11 years. In the early years, first responder attestations were provided to successful E-Care students at Concordia. Little did we realize at the time where we would be 30 years later.

In 1996, after an emergency-care themed CATA conference in Montréal, the need to bring our national skill-set level from first-aid to first responder grew stronger and a movement was launched. The recruitment of an advanced care paramedic Gary McHugh (John’s EMT instructor) ensured program quality and kept the program up to date. The initial sports first responder courses were hosted in Waterloo Ontario, Montreal Olympic Stadium, then out to western Canada with the WHL. Courses were then offered on a regular basis throughout Canada.

In 1999 at York University, we offered the initial Sports First Responder Instructor-Trainer course in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross (who recently started up a national certification program). The addition of a national first responder certification to a course adapted for sport was a perfect match and remains so to this date. The structure of the course delivery has since changed over the years, varies from province to province and is known under different trade names.

In 2016, the current SFR program will be entering its 20th year and is proud to have trained thousands of health care professionals across Canada. We continue to expand our course offerings as new challenges such as concussion management and sports equipment removal continue to evolve. We owe our success to our partners, collaborators, evidence-based researchers and fellow therapists whose mission is to provide elite care to Canada’s very best, no matter what the level!