FORMER European Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher has launched a campaign which could potentially help to save the lives of golfers of all abilities and ages.
The 1995 winning captain was at Wentworth Club today to activate the Bernard Gallacher Defibrillator Campaign 2014.
Drawing on his own experience of suffering a cardiac arrest at the end of August at a dinner reception in Aberdeen, Gallacher said: “I consider myself incredibly fortunate that a defibrillator was on hand in Aberdeen to resuscitate me following my sudden cardiac arrest.
“But for that automated external defibrillator (AED) and the quick-thinking, expertise and life-saving skills of the medical personnel in the room that night, I wouldn’t be here today.”
The 64-year-old was able to regain consciousness and take steps towards a full recovery following the use of the AED and early-response CPR treatment at the venue.
The brush with death inspired the golfer and his wife Lesley to announce plans to lead a drive for AEDs to be available at every golf club and driving range in the UK and Ireland.
With their profile and encouragement, allied to a fundraising campaign being run concurrently with the PGA and Arrhythmia Alliance – the Heart Rhythm Charity - an estimated 2600 golfing venues and around 4 million club golfers could benefit from the campaign.
Gallacher, who spent over 20 years as Club Professional at Wentworth added: “Without early intervention, an individual has just a 5 per cent chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest, so Lesley and I felt it appropriate to try to ensure others are equally fortunate should they collapse in or around a golfing venue in future.
“Currently, just 30 per cent of golf clubs have a defibrillator and our stated aim is to try to raise awareness and to increase that figure considerably by encouraging every club or driving range in the UK and Ireland to have at least one public-access defibrillator by the end of 2014.”
Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder and CEO of Arrhythmia Alliance, said: “Bernard’s experience has shown the life-saving difference of early CPR and use of a defibrillator. We are delighted to join him and the PGA in this campaign for every golf club in the UK and Ireland to have their own device.”
Sandy Jones, Chief Executive of the PGA, welcomed the partnership with the Ryder Cup hero, adding: “The PGA is delighted to join with Bernard in this campaign. It has been a long standing ambition of my own and the PGA that this should happen, and as we have seen through the near tragic experience of Bernard, it is vital that such equipment is available at the time of need.
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of the European Tour, commented: “Bernard is one of our great champions and it came as a huge shock to hear what happened to him, but also a massive relief to then learn of the importance of the emergency procedures which helped to save his life.
“All of us at the European Tour are fully supportive of Bernard and Lesley’s campaign to get AEDs into every golfing facility in the UK and Ireland.”