The British Heart Foundation (BHF) and The Football Association (The FA) are calling on grassroots and amateur football clubs to help save more lives from cardiac arrests by installing lifesaving defibrillators.
The BHF and The FA have already helped part-fund and place around 600 defibrillators at grassroots clubs across the country and are now inviting applications from clubs operating within the National League System, Women’s Pyramid of Football or Charter Standard Programme for a further 900 available.
Lisa Hodgson, FA Medical Education Lead, said: "The FA continues to recognise the importance of providing timely and appropriate emergency first aid following casualties at footballing activities.
"Alongside our partners at the British Heart Foundation and WEL Medical, we are supplementing our CPR training by providing an excellent opportunity to receive equipment that could mean all the difference in a potentially life-threatening situation. I would implore football clubs across the country to apply."
Research shows that over 90% of sudden cardiac arrests in young athletes happen either during or immediately after exercise (1) and those with an inherited heart condition can be up to three times as likely to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest if they participate in intensive or strenuous exercise (2).
At least three fatalities occurred during football matches or training this year in England due to cardiac arrest, including former England international Ugo Ehiogu who died whilst working as coach at Tottenham Hotspur FC. A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops pumping blood around their body and to their brain. It causes the person to fall unconscious and stop breathing, or stop breathing normally.
For every minute without CPR and defibrillation, a person’s chance of survival decreases by around 10 per cent (3). A defibrillator is an automatic device that can be used by the public to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm during cardiac arrest. By performing CPR and using a defibrillator until an ambulance arrives, you can help double the victim’s chance of survival.
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Sadly there are hundreds of thousands of people in the UK with a faulty gene which puts them at risk of sudden death from a cardiac arrest.
"When someone collapses on the football pitch and their heart stops, the next few seconds are absolutely critical. Every minute without CPR and defibrillation can reduce their chance of survival by ten per cent.
"Defibrillators can be the difference between life and death, which is why we’re urging football clubs across England to apply for this vital equipment and have it nearby in case of an emergency."
There are around 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in England every year. However, fewer than one in ten people survive (4).
You can apply for a defibrillator by visiting: www.footballdefibs.org