Call to install defibrillators at all sports venues

Jamie Skinner

Jamie Skinner

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CALLS are mounting for life-saving heart equipment to be installed at all community and sporting facilities in Scotland in the wake of the tragic death of a teenage footballer.

Following the sudden death of 13-year-old Jamie Skinner from a suspected heart attack at the Saughton Sports Complex on Sunday, the Arrhythmia Alliance said today that defibrillators, which jump start the heart after cardiac arrest, should be made available at all such facilities.

Jamie’s sister and brother-in-law Sonia and Steven McCraw made the same plea when they paid tribute to the young sports star.

Trudie Lobban, founder and Chief Executive of the Arrhythmia Alliance, said: “Arrhythmia’s (heart rhythm disorders) can be diagnosed and treated and many lives could be saved.

“Even more lives could be saved if a defibrillator was close at hand to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.”

A defibrillator was kept at the sports complex where Jamie died, but it was not used as the staff on duty, who were trained in its use, were busy contacting the emergency services and securing access for the ambulance, said Graeme Gardiner, director of operations at Edinburgh Leisure.

An ambulance responding to the call was slightly held up at the complex entrance after a gate was blocked by a damaged security bollard. There is no suggestion Jamie’s life could have been saved by anyone acting any differently at Saughton Park.

Paramedics immediately used their defibrillator upon arrival, giving the stricken teenager two shocks in a bid to save his life.

Jamie, who was playing in his debut for Tynecastle FC under-14s against Spartans, collapsed five minutes into the second half and was later pronounced dead at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Jamie’s father, George, rushed to his side after his son Tony received a call about the emergency at their family home.

The pair arrived as paramedics fought to save the teenager and they went with him in the ambulance to the ERI.

A post-mortem examination is still to be carried out to determine the exact cause of death, but early indications suggest he suffered a heart attack.

Mr Gardiner said: “Safety is of paramount importance for us and in the event of an emergency situation, the priority is contacting and supporting swift access for ambulance services.

“Unfortunately there was a minor delay at one gate due to the discovery that a security bollard had been externally damaged.

“The tragic event at Saughton Sports Complex on Sunday saw our two members of staff, when alerted to the incident, focus on contacting emergency services and opening all gates.

In spite of the quick actions of staff, spectators and officials at the scene, Jamie Skinner died shortly after collapsing during play.

“We are continuing to help the police with their enquiries into this tragic and as yet unexplained incident.

“We are all shocked and saddened by this news and our deepest sympathies are with Jamie’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

alan.mcewen@edinburghnews.com