Getting to the heart of saving young lives
Posted: Fri, 11 Dec 2015
'In a perfect world, imagine if there was a defibrillator at every sporting venue in the country'
There is no doubt that England and Australia's sporting rivalry is amongst the longest, hardest-fought and most engrossing in the world. But despite our differences, this common passion for sport has now united us. Whether in Leicestershire, UK or Victoria, Australia, we all recognise the importance of ensuring that heart safety is at the centre of player welfare.
A recent report from Youth Watch Australia once again hammered home that we can no longer take it for granted that fit and healthy people are exempt from falling victim to sudden cardiac death, caused by undiagnosed heart conditions.
They reported on the tragic case of 43-year-old Matt Richardson, a husband and father who collapsed and died while playing soccer in Sydney. "We've lost the centre of our universe," his family said.
Many of these deaths could have been prevented if there had been quick action and access to a defibrillator, say medics. Up to 33,000 Australians suffer cardiac arrest each year and fewer than five per cent survive. In the UK, there are 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year, of which 30,000 are witnessed and only between seven and 10 per cent survive. There are at least 12 young cardiac deaths in the UK every week.
The Joe Humphries Memorial Trust is a charity that relies on many wonderfully committed volunteers to help raise awareness and reduce the incidence of sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) and other heart deaths.
The JHMT collaborates with the Leicester-shire Heartsafe schools' programme, which raises awareness of cardiac arrest in people of all ages. Basic CPR and defibrillator training has been provided to more than 9,000 year 10 pupils.
And Joe's MiniHeart Start For Sports Clubs is working to encourage all sports clubs to be better prepared to save a life by having quick access to a community-use defibrillator and ensuring that players, officials and supporters have basic CPR skills. Find out more about this free training on the JHMT website.
Every parent of a child playing sport should expect all clubs and events to be fully prepared and equipped to help anyone whose heart stops. This is also an opportunity to create a new generation of 'response-ability' athletes who know how to save a life.
It takes seconds to save a life – let's make sure this is one battle everyone wins.
Chair of JHMT
(First Person Column - Leicester Mercury - Thursday 10/12/15)