Life-saving defibrillators installed in Lancashire’s grassroots parks to prevent sudden cardiac arrests death

Anyone can have a sudden cardiac arrest. The magnitude of Young, Sudden Cardiac Death [YSCD] amongst athletes in peak physical condition is an increasing problem.

Every week in the UK, 12 seemingly fit and healthy young people, under the age of 35, die from YSCD. Whilst some arrests are unexplainable and fatal, others, through education and equipment, can be prevented and lives can be saved.

According to statistics, if a defibrillator is used within the first minute, the survival rate can be as high as 90%. If however, a defibrillator is used within the first 3 to 5 minutes, the likelihood of survival drops by 16%, showing that having a defibrillator close by makes a huge difference.

After Christian Eriksen’s collapsed whilst playing for Denmark at Euro 2020 last summer, the Premier League Defibrillator Fund installed 2,000 Automated External Defibrillators at grassroots facilities without an easily accessible device on site. However, many sporting venues still do not have a defibrillator within four minutes of a pitch.

Tracey Garde is no stranger to saving lives. The 57-year-old from Ramsbottom, who has saved hundreds of people during her 40-years as a cardiac nurse, believes defibrillators should have the same laws as fire extinguishers.

She said: “If you were to build a building you must have a fire extinguisher, it is the law.

“The chances of you using one is very slim but it is there just in case. It should be the same for defibrillators.”

In 2012, Mrs Garde was named the St Johns Ambulance Community Hero winner for her work with Bolton’s Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator [ICD] Support Group charity in fundraising the cost of 160 defibrillators for schools and clubs in the community. A year later, she was awarded the National LifeSaver Award for her off-duty role in saving a Blackpool supporter who collapsed outside the University of Bolton Stadium.

Tracey Garde, second left, saved Derek Smith, second right, along with Lesley Hough and PC
Gary Lee.
(Credit: The Bolton News)

Mrs Garde said: “Saving a life and knowing someone has survived is better than receiving any award.

“We used to buy defibrillators for £800 but that is not expensive when talking about someone’s life.

“What price is a human life, £800?”

The survival rate for someone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest decreases by 10% every minute. Using a defibrillator whilst awaiting the emergency services can be the difference between life and death.

Preston City Council this week installed three defibrillators in the city’s most popular grassroots parks. The Lancashire FA match-funded the life-saving equipment now in place at Moor Park, Ashton Park and Ribbleton Park, and Iain Kelly, Head of Participation & Development at the association, has urged more clubs across the region to take advantage of the available funding.

He said: “A defibrillator is a critical life-saving piece of equipment that not only supports the football community but has a significant impact on everyone in the local area.

“We want to see this grow and gather weight across the local authorities we cover in Lancashire. We still have significant funds we can put towards more installations so we encourage any clubs, leagues or volunteers that want our support to reach out.”

In countries where basic life support is taught in schools, survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest are two to three times higher than those who are not. Across the UK, teaching CPR is now a part of the Health Education curriculum.

Mrs Garde said: “Funding and education are massively important in sparking a change.

“It needs to be legislated and made mandatory that every area where people are exercising should have a defibrillator within four minutes. It is vital that young people are taught in schools how to use equipment and perform CPR.”

For more information on preventing young sudden cardiac deaths visit CRY, or to contact the Lancashire FA click here.