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Inquest into dad's death after a rugby league head injury

Spam Spam Spam (2020-09-24)


Amateur rugby league players need to be stopped from 'toughing out' head injuries as it could kill them, an inquest into the death of young dad heard.

Grant Cook, 28, died after collapsing on the field of a match in Murwillumbah, northern New South Wales, on September 11, 2016, following a hard hit to the head.

The father-of-two walked to the sidelines after tackling a running opponent but collapsed and went into 'convulsions' minutes later.

A doctor at the scene gave him CPR when he went into cardiac arrest and he was rushed to Gold Coast University Hospital where he died the next day.

Grant Cook, 28, (pictured with his wife Colleen) died after collapsing on the field of a match in Murwillumbah, country NSW, on September 12, 2016, following a hard hit to the head

NSW Rugby League general manager Barrie-Jon Mather was questioned at an inquest into Mr Cook's death at the NSW Coroner's Court on Wednesday.

He said policies had been changed in recent years to protect players from themselves after they take hard hits in play.

Mr Mather said players like Mr Cook would often say 'I'm fine, leave me alone' to trainers and medical staff and want to get back on the field.

'We have to educate players that they can't "tough out" head injuries,' he told the court.

'The barrier to stopping a player hurting themselves is coaches and team management. 

'Sometimes you have to stop a player from injuring themselves and make decisions for them.'

NSW Rugby League general manager Barrie-Jon Mather (pictured with the ball during his playing days) was questioned at an inquest into Mr Cook's death

Mr Mather also agreed with counsels assisting Deputy Coroner Derek Lee that referees should be given training in how to deal with head injuries.

This could include how to spot potentially serious head injuries and what to look out for in a tackle that could cause one.

'We've changed the process this year so if someone comes off with a head injury, you press a button and he's effectively banned from the game for the next two weeks until he produces a medical clearance,' he told the court.

Mr Cook was playing a for the Murwillumbah Mustangs in a Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League semi-final clash against the Casino Cougars when he took the hit

Mr Mather announced the new concussion policy in January after a comprehensive review in the off season.

'We are just trying to increase the level of care and err on the side of caution when it comes to head knocks and concussions,' he said at the time. 

Concussion policies have been implemented by many sports to reduce long-term damage to players amid increased awareness of fatal brain conditions like CTE.

The inquest previously investigated Mr Cook's exact cause of death, and the delay in him being rushed to hospital.

Mr Cook's father Geoff, who took over his son's Tweed Growers grocery with his other son Aaron, watched the inquest on video link. 

Mr Cook was playing a for the Murwillumbah Mustangs in a Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League semi-final clash against the Casino Cougars.

After taking the hit he came to the sidelines a couple of minutes before half time, then went 'into some sort of fit or convulsion'.

'They continued to play because there was only a bit over a minute left in the half and there was no indication it was anything major on the sideline at that stage,' local league president Brian Rix said at the time.

'When the halftime break came, we knew then it was quite serious.'

From information provided in the Triple-0 call, NSW Ambulance designated the incident a 1C emergency.

Mr Cook's wife Colleen gave a heart-wrenching tribute to her late husband in the days after his death

On the way, it was upgraded to the highest 1A when operators were 'advised in a subsequent call that the patient had gone into cardiac arrest and a doctor had commenced CPR'.

The first ambulance arrived 20 minutes after the Triple-0 call and Mr Cook did not get to hospital until 90 minutes after the alarm was raised.

NSW Ambulance admitted at the time 20 minutes was longer than the usual response time for such an emergency.

'You would hope that when the patient is serious, it would take 10 to 12 minutes for the first resource to arrive,' it said. 

Half of all 1A emergencies in NSW in 2013/14 were responded to within 7.65 minutes, according to ambulance records.

No rescue helicopter was dispatched by NSW Ambulance for Mr Cook.

Geoff Cook at the time questioned the time it took for the ambulance to arrive.

'If they had said, 'Look, we're not getting an ambulance to you for 30 minutes', Grant could have been transported in a car and CPR could have been continued in the back seat and then at a hospital that had the equipment,' he told 9 News.

Mr Cook (pictured right with his brother Aaron) walked to the sidelines after tackling a running opponent but collapsed and went into 'convulsions' minutes later

Mr Cook's wife Colleen gave a heart-wrenching tribute to her late husband in the days after his death.

'My goodness.

Where to start? And what's the correct way to announce the passing of a husband, son, father, brother, uncle, cousin, teammate and friend so many of us loved,' she wrote in a Facebook post.

'My beautiful husband Grant is now an angel watching over us.
Life can be so cruel.

'He has left a huge hole in my heart and I know all family, especially his parents, are hurting trying to understand this tragedy.'

Ms Cook said she was in denial about the severity of her husband's condition, she knew deep down her wasn't going to make it. 

'I knew very early the outcome and am slowly accepting that I could not hold and kiss him forever and I had to at some point walk away from him and come home to look after our children, and be there for them when the questions come.

And they will.' she wrote.

'And it already hurts an immense deal. Walking away down that hospital corridor was one of the hardest things I have ever done. 

'And I'm surprised I made it out with how heavy my legs and heart and body felt. 

'We loved him so much, and he loved us.

And I guess this part is what hurts me the most. Him not growing old with me and watching our children hit each milestone.'

Ms Cook said she was in denial about the severity of her husband's condition, she knew deep down her wasn't going to make it

The first ambulance arrived 20 minutes after the Triple-0 call and Mr Cook did not get to hospital until 90 minutes after the alarm was raised

Ms Cook said she was 'immensely proud' of her husband, and how much he had achieved while still in his 20s.

'I do feel immensely proud of Grant.

He helped so many, he loved unconditionally, he forgave others and 안전한놀이터 taught me to do the same. 

'He actually taught me many things. And held me together in my darkest days. 

'You died doing something you loved so passionately, and I guess that's how I have to look at it.'

Mr Cook won Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2013 Northern Rivers Business Awards for his grocery business.

He was given a guard of honour by Mustangs players at his funeral and the local league cup is now named after him. 



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