Today Mary, along with 50 other MPs and Peers, has written to the CEO of The FA, Mark Bullingham, to demand the financing of defibrillators for grassroots clubs rather than merely offering discounts.
This comes after the harrowing events in the Euro 2020 match on Saturday 12th June which saw Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receive emergency medical aid after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Highlighting the quick response of match officials, players, and medical staff, the letter acknowledges that quick, informed responses are life-saving in themselves and the ‘Emergency Aid’ course offered by the FA needs expanding to reach as many grassroots players as possible.
Writing in the letter Mary Kelly Foy MP says:
“Christian Eriksen’s life was undoubtedly saved by the quick actions of the players, officials, and medical staff in Copenhagen. This should be applauded by everyone. These quick actions, especially by Danish captain Simon Kjaer and Referee Anthony Taylor, have shown the need for the expansion of the FA’s Emergency Aid course to become compulsory to a delegation of players, coaches, and referees at each grassroots club and County FA up and down the country.”
The letter goes on to call for the FA to increase their spending on defibrillators with MPs asking the FA to fund defibrillators outright in grassroots settings rather than offering discounts on the life-saving kit which still prove to be expensive for grassroots clubs to buy even with a discount.
This letter has support from Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Alba, and DUP MPs. It also has the support of Peers in the House of Lords including Lord Triesman, who was Chair of the FA from 2008-2010.
Full text of the letter can be found below:
Dear Mr Bullingham,
The Denmark v Finland game at the European Championships on 12th June highlighted some critical points about football, not least the solidarity that was shown by the players to their teammate Christian Eriksen after his medical emergency. The game also highlighted how crucial it is that there is pitch side access to life-saving medical equipment whether that be at the European Championships in Copenhagen, an Under-15s game in County Durham, a walking football match in Belfast, or a 5-a-side pick up game in Edinburgh.
Christian Eriksen’s life was undoubtedly saved by the quick actions of the players, officials, and medical staff in Copenhagen. This should be applauded by everyone. These quick actions, especially by Danish captain Simon Kjaer and Referee Anthony Taylor, have shown the need for the expansion of the FA’s Emergency Aid course to become compulsory to a delegation of players, coaches, and referees at each grassroots club and County FA up and down the country. The FA Emergency Aid course “aims to provide the participant with the knowledge, practical skills and confidence to be able to attend a conscious or unconscious casualty, ensuring that appropriate care is given until the emergency medical services arrive and takeover…”, skills we saw to life-saving effect on the pitch in Copenhagen. It took 1 minute and 48 seconds for responders to begin CPR at the match in Denmark; expanding participation in the Emergency Aid course will help more people feel comfortable in their skills of CPR and other life-saving procedures. We call on the FA to expand the reach of the Emergency Aid Course to ensure as many people attached to football have knowledge of these life-saving skills.
It has also highlighted the need for more access to defibrillators across the country’s clubs at every level and nearby the pitches that these teams use. It is a common saying that “you’re never more than six feet away from a rat”, but it should be the case that you are never more than one minute away from a defibrillator, especially in sporting venues. It was noted by Dr Sanjay Sharma on Sky Sports News that cardiac cases like Eriksen’s are very rare – 1 in 50,000 among sportspeople. We need to be ready for these rare cases so that when this happens in a remote village at an under-18s game there is as much chance of survival as in an elite sporting venue. For every minute that passes, the chances of survival go down by 7-10%. It is crucial therefore, that defibrillators are close to pitches.
Therefore, we call on the FA to give an update on the take up of phased rollout of discounted defibrillators that was announced in 2019’s ‘Heart Safe’ campaign for grassroots clubs. Further to that, we call on the FA to provide regular updates on the number of defibrillators that have been installed in grassroots clubs and pitches around the country as the game continues to grow in the UK, working with local authorities to ensure that at sporting venues no one is more than one minute away from a defibrillator. We also call on the FA to fund defibrillators for grassroots clubs that need them, rather than offering discounts.
We look forward to your response and your commitment to ensuring that football is a safe place at grassroots level, not just at elite level.
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