Sports clubs hail new defibrillators

Easthouses F.C Stuart Mclean with a new defibrilator. Picture: Toby Williams
Easthouses F.C Stuart Mclean with a new defibrilator. Picture: Toby Williams
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TEAMS across the Capital have pledged to take the care of their players seriously by ensuring there is a vital defibrillator at hand to prevent a tragedy on the pitch.

Since the launch of the Shockingly Easy campaign last July, an astonishing 75 defibrillators have been added to the life-saving map of Edinburgh and the Lothians.

This fantastic achievement came too late for 13-year-old Jamie Skinner, who tragically lost his life in December 2013 when he suffered a cardiac arrest while playing football at Saughton.

But his brave family vowed to prevent such a needless tragedy from happening again by starting their own charity – the Jamie Skinner Foundation – and joining forces with the Evening News for a campaign to ensure every sports club in Lothian has a heart-start machine.

A cardiac arrest can happen 
to anyone. Every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy young aged 35 and under die from undiagnosed cardiac conditions.

When bystanders provide immediate CPR and the first shock is delivered within three to five minutes, the reported survival rates rise from ten to 75 per cent, according to the British Heart Foundation.

There has been a surge in interest in defibrillators during the last year, as the message has started to spread.

Clubs such as Sighthill Bowling Club, Preston Athletic FC and St Bernard’s FC have all snapped up devices to keep their players safe.

Council bosses have pledged to spend more than £34,000 equipping every high school in the Capital with a defibrillator.

And the Scottish Government announced its new cardiac arrest strategy in March, which aims to save 1000 lives over the next five years.

Jamie’s cousin, Karen Greechan, secretary of the Jamie Skinner Foundation, said: “It’s been unbelievable the response.

“When I found out how many defibrillators were installed in the past year, I couldn’t stop from crying. I am absolutely so proud of the support we have had from everyone.

“The message has really started to get out and people keep saying to me that they never knew anything about defibrillators until they heard about the campaign.”

The Jamie Skinner Foundation has £30,000 to pay out to 
interested clubs thanks to donations from Scotmid, Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation and many generous readers.

Anyone who is interested in applying for funding should e-mail jamieskinnerfoundation@hotmail.com.

‘It’s something there to be used if anything goes wrong’

JAMIE Skinner’s old teammates were the first to scoop a defibrillator through the campaign, thanks to a generous donation from Scotmid.

Edinburgh South Football Club were nominated to receive the heart-starting equipment by the family of the talented 13-year-old, who had recently left the team to play for Tynecastle FC.

Paul Benzie, publicity officer for the 20-team club, said: “There has been a very positive reaction from the club, to know there is something there to use if anything goes wrong.

“It was actually the boys on Jamie’s old team who were most keen to get a defibrillator and as a club we were really happy to help.”

The device is stored in the team’s clubhouse at Inch Park, where it is available for use by members of the public as well as teams such as Lismore Rugby Club and Edinburgh Cricket Club.

Mr Benzie said: “There are so many teams using Inch Park that we leave it where it is, rather than taking it with us, but we make sure.”

He added: “I think that the peace of mind it brings is really important.

“Luckily we haven’t had to use it but we know it is there.

“I think any club without one should get involved, as it would be a shame to miss an opportunity like this.

‘It’s part of our routine to bring it to every match’

A PORTABLE defibrillator is now pitchside at every game played by Craigroyston FC, who were spurred into action after a former coach suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch.

Stevie Adamson, right, collapsed during a training session at Prestonpans in 2013, but was revived thanks to quick CPR and the use of a heart-start machine belonging to Preston Lodge Rugby Club, who were playing nearby.

Craigroyston coach Sean Gardiner said: “Parents have said that they feel much more comfortable now they know that if something were to happen then all the coaches at the club would know what to do.

“It’s become part of our routine to check it, make sure it is working OK, and to bring it to every match.”

‘Everyone is aware that we have got one here’

ONE of the first clubs to jump on board with the campaign was Easthouses FC, who ensured the safety of more than 100 young players by buying a heart-start machine.

The club – which has 12 teams on the books – was given £250 from Scotmid after the supermarket giant pledged to back the Shockingly Easy campaign with £250 grants for 11 clubs located near its stores.

Midlothian East independent councillor Peter de Vink donated half the cost of the shock box, while Easthouses parents and supporters raised the rest of the cash by taking part in a sponsored walk and various fundraising events.

Helen MacLean, an organiser at the Midlothian club, said they were inspired to act after receiving encouragement from parent Claire Gately, whose brother-in-law, former Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, died from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2009.

She said: “Luckily enough, we haven’t had to use the defibrillator yet.

“The parents think it is a fab idea and everyone is aware that we have got one.

“We are just in the process at the moment of deciding where to keep it permanently.

“Everyone was very glad that it is there for us to use.

“The coaches are all really chuffed to bits that we have got it.”

Easthouses FC are planning a promotional event on Saturday when the defibrillator will be unveiled in its permanent location within the team’s clubhouse.

The club is also keen for local residents to be aware of the device so they can use it.

‘We’re happy to have it but it’s never been used’

A FORMER footballer dug deep to buy a defibrillator for a local youth football team.

Kirkliston and South Queensferry Football Club, which looks after more than 250 young players, started fundraising for a shock box soon after the tragic death of Jamie Skinner.

But fate stepped in as former Dunfermline Athletic player Sean Black decided to donate a defibrillator to the football club, after being inspired by the Shockingly Easy campaign.

Mr Black, managing director of Lindemann Healthcare, which runs care homes in Murrayfield, Juniper Green and Colinton, donated £1500 to buy the team the vital medical kit.

Kirkliston and South Queensferry FC secretary Mark Richardson said: “Everybody is really happy to have it but it has never been used yet. I think we were all really thankful for the donation we received, which was a fantastic gesture.”

Mr Richardson added: “The kids asked us what it was for so we explained to them all about what happened to Jamie and why we need it. There is an understanding there now.

“Twenty of our coaches are now covered by defibrillator training, which is great.

“Obviously we would hope it is something we would never have to use but it just makes sense to have one.”

The life-saving device now travels with the Kirkliston and South Queensferry teams to their matches.

The club has also pledged that it will be available to the community in a pavilion at the Allison Park training ground.