‘Vivid reality’ of Eriksen’s sudden cardiac arrest shows just how fast you need to react to save a life


The events of the match between Denmark and Finland on Saturday, 12 June, with Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest whilst playing, have put into perspective how essential it is that people involved in sport have the knowledge and confidence to respond quickly and appropriately in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

UK Coaching, funded by Sport England and in collaboration with Resuscitation Council UK, St John Ambulance and Joe Humphries Memorial Trust, has produced a free toolkit to help people understand how to respond and act quickly to an SCA.

An SCA is when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops pumping blood around the body and vital organs due to an abnormal heart rhythm. Each year in the UK, approximately 60,000 people have an SCA out of hospital, with only 1 in 10 surviving.

If effective action is taken within the first minute, it can treble someone’s chance of survival.

Funded by Sport England, the toolkit is aimed at the sport and physical activity industry – from coaches to instructors, staff, spectators and parents – everyone can play a part in improving the chances of survival through the right information, training and support.

UK Coaching’s CEO Mark Gannon, said:

“The vivid reality of Eriksen’s collapse and resuscitation last weekend have shown just how fast you need to react in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest.


“It’s left many questioning if they would know what to do, where the nearest defib is, and most importantly the need to give everyone, from coaches to players, facility staff, parents and spectators, the knowledge and confidence to act fast – because every second really does count.


“That’s why we’re encouraging all involved in sport to undertake the free online training, fully funded by Sport England – 30 minutes of your time could save a life. Both Martin Johnson and Fabrice Muamba feature within the interactive online course, and I’m very grateful for their support in helping us to raise awareness of the issue. Moving forward, every sporting venue must have an AED on site and sports should be making the course mandatory. Every person trained, could be another life saved.”


Steve Humphries, whose son Joe died of a cardiac arrest aged 14, started the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust in his memory and works tirelessly to raise awareness, imploring people to take training to know how to respond quickly and appropriately.


Humphries, said:


“Twelve people under the age of 30 die every week in the UK from SADS (Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome – that can cause a cardiac arrest). Some of these happen in front of coaches, during or shortly after playing sport. My message for coaches is that there is a golden opportunity to save a life, should a sudden cardiac arrest happen in front of them.”


Patron of the Trust is England rugby legend Martin Johnson CBE, who has backed UK Coaching’s training and urged the British public to become a nation of life savers.


Johnson, said:


“Being aware of sudden cardiac arrest and having a bit of training can make all the difference. I have heard some horrific stories and know that things could have turned out differently. Getting training is so vital and it is relatively easy to learn.


“Take UK Coaching’s online course so that if you find yourself in that moment, you will know what to do; and know that you are giving that person the best chance they have of survival.”


Adding to the call is former Bolton Wanderers midfielder and SCA survivor Fabrice Muamba, who experienced his ordeal in 2012, playing against Tottenham in the FA Cup quarter-finals in front of 30,000 football fans and a TV audience of millions.


Muamba, said:


“Coaches are not expected to be as skilled as doctors, but it’s about knowing the fundamentals: getting someone to phone 999, starting CPR and using a defibrillator before the ambulance arrives. That will significantly increase someone’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest if one happens in your session, at an event or during a match.”


The toolkit is now available at ukcoaching.org and can be accessed in bitesize chunks. It includes:

  • practical information and advice
  • an immersive scenario-based eLearning course
  • a series of high impact and informative videos
  • insightful interviews and compelling written features with survivors, their coaches and victims’ families
  • signposting to further support.

Learners will receive a certificate for completing the eLearning and will be awarded ½ a Developmental CPD point by CIMSPA.

SCAs can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. Learn how to save a life.

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