Christian Eriksen collapse prompts call for Scottish Government to subsidise defibrillators at amateur sports grounds

The Scottish Government has been urged to help pay for defibrillators for amateur sports grounds in the wake of Danish footballer Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest on the pitch at Euro 2020.

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One of the heart-start machines was used to revive Eriksen after he collapsed during his country’s opening Euros match in Copenhagen on Saturday.

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Glasgow Toy MSP Sandesh Gulhane, who is also club doctor at Queen's Park FC, raised the issue at topical questions in the Scottish Parliament, asking whether "in light of the disturbing events at Euro 2020” the government would consider subsidising the purchase of defibrillators for amateur sports grounds.

Denmark's midfielder Christian Eriksen      Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP
Denmark's midfielder Christian Eriksen Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP

Public health minister Maree Todd said the incident was a stark reminder of the importance of prompt CPR and access to defibrillation to improve a person’s chance of survival from cardiac arrest.

"I’m sure I speak for everyone in this chamber and all over Scotland when I say we are very relieved that the prompt action taken has saved his life and he is now recovering well.”

She said the Scottish Government had launched a CPR strategy in 2015 and since then over 640,000 people had received CPR training. “In 2015, only one in 20 people survived a cardiac arrest – this has now increased to one in 10 people surviving."

But she said: “The provision of life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators, is the responsibility of individual sporting governing bodies.”

Dr Gulhane pressed the point, saying the cost was the reason amateur sports clubs were unable to provide defibrillators. And he said: “It does help so much because two per 100,000 per year of competitive athletes aged between 14 and 35 will suffer from events like this.”

Ms Todd said the government had funded the Edinburgh University resuscitation research group who undertook a public-access defibrillator modelling analysis in 2018. “That will be a data-led analysis of where defibrillators should be located, including looking at high-risk neighbourhoods and as part of the distribution of defibrillators there will be a training package to help people to be able to use them – they are very straightforwad to use, the defibrillator tells you what to do – but this will help raise confidence.”

Eriksen was given emergency CPR before medical staff used a defibrillator to revive him after his collapse. Denmark team doctor Morten Boesen said the 29-year-old midfielder "was gone" before resuscitation efforts began. But he added: “We got him back after one defib, so that's quite fast."

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The player has thanked fans from his hospital bed for their get-well messages, telling them he was "fine under the circumstances” but would be staying in hospital for further tests.

In 2013, 13-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy Jamie Skinner died tragically after suffering cardiac arrest on the pitch during he debut match for Tynecastle FC.

His death prompted a long-running campaign by the Evening News and Jamie’s family to increase the number of defibrillators available around the Lothians.

The city council was among the organisations which responded, shelling out £70,000 for heartstart machines in all 23 high schools in the Capital, as well as ten special schools and a number of key office buildings.

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