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Opinion

Eriksen incident a timely reminder for sporting clubs to be vigilant

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Roar Guru
13th June, 2021
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The Christian Eriksen incident in Denmark’s Euro 2021 clash with Finland in Copenhagen was a timely reminder of the need for defibrillators and safety measures at all sporting venues across the country.

Eriksen was saved thanks to the quick thinking of teammates and medical staff, who had all the resources necessary to keep him alive.

The sad reality though is community sporting venues across the country aren’t always equipped with defibrillators and crucially don’t often have people trained to use them.

Inconceivably there are also situations where emergency vehicles don’t have clear access to sporting fields due to people not following simple rules.

It is estimated that 33,000 people annually across Australia have cardiac arrest, with a number happening in sporting environments.

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According to the St John’s website, in Australia, the price of an automatic defibrillator machine can start from as little as $1999. It is a small price to pay to save someone’s life.

In 2017, Football Australia implemented a policy where all A-League, W-League and National Youth League teams had one readily available.

A number of state government bodies offer grants to sporting clubs to assist them in buying a defibrillator. For example in NSW, there is the Local Sport Defibrillator Grant Program, which started in 2017. It allocated $4 million over four years to assist sporting clubs across NSW in the purchase and maintenance of automated external defibrillators.

Football generic

(Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

Tragically, cardiac arrest doesn’t just impact the older population. There have been a number of incidents where seemingly healthy young people have also been effected.

In 2014, 15-year-old Marc Arcuri was struck down by sudden cardiac illness while playing football for Austral FC.

The tragedy left his family and the local football community dealing with the horror of a young life taken in an innocent environment like a football field.

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Young Marc’s death would not be in vain, with a six-a-side football tournament being organised in western Sydney in his name, to raise funds for defibrillators.

It soon became known as the Marc Arcuri Cup and since 2014, more than $200,000 has been raised and more than 100 defibrillators have been purchased and donated to community sporting clubs across NSW and Victoria. One defibrillator saved the life of 64-year-old Ian ‘Gunner’ Rae, revived after suffering a heart attack while playing for West Pymble FC in April 2018.

Last year at the Afghan Cup in Auburn, a young footballer tragically passed after suffering a cardiac arrest on the field. The ambulance had trouble getting through to the field due to cars being parked in the emergency entrance and also the fact the defibrillator at the ground was not accessible.

The tragedy was a reminder of the need for sporting clubs to be vigilant about health and safety.

Christian Eriksen’s life was saved on the football field in Copenhagen on Saturday. A number of others can be as well going forward if sporting clubs do the right thing.

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Buy a defibrillator, train people to use them, be present at a venue each weekend, and have strict protocols in place to ensure emergency vehicles have access to sporting fields.

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