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Football clubs not all ready for emergencies

Wednesday March 3rd, 2010

European football stadiums are places of excitement and drama - yet they are ill-equipped to deal with heart attacks, researchers claimed today.

As many as 25 per cent of Europe's major football clubs do not have automated external defibrillators - that can be used rapidly to resuscitate a heart attack victim, according to a report in the European Heart Journal.

And even fewer have advanced training programmes for staff or medical action plans, researchers said.

The findings are disturbing because, although there have been few major incidents recently, 20 years ago clubs were rocked by a series of disasters caused by poor crowd control.

However British clubs came out well from the survey, conducted by researchers in Sweden.

Professor Mats Borjesson, of the Sahlgrenska Academy, Goteburg, working with several club doctors, studied some 187 football arenas in ten countries.

He said: "It is known that viewing and being emotionally engaged in a soccer game increases the likelihood of people suffering a heart attack, particularly amongst the middle-aged and elderly who are more at risk of heart disease.

"Our study confirms that spectators, in addition to the athletes, need adequate emergency medical procedures in place."

He explained: "The idea for this study came from our clinical experiences working as club doctors where it appeared to us that the level of cardiovascular care available at sports arenas was varying, unknown and had not been studied specifically in Europe.

"The lack of AEDs at the clubs that were more than five minutes away from a hospital was particularly important, since the goal of defibrillation within five minutes would then not be possible to achieve.

"However, he also said there was no point having AEDs if staff were not trained how to use them and so the lack of CPR training and medical action plans was worrying."

Professor Borjesson added: "As football is the biggest and best resourced sport in Europe, the situation may be even worse at venues for other types of sports."

Ellen Mason, a specialist nurse with the British Heart Foundation, said the UK findings were "reassuring" - and were backed by volunteers from the St John's Ambulance, whose defibrillators are supplied by the Foundation.

She said: "The BHF has led the way in supporting the placement of AEDs in public places, so far we have helped to make 9,000 available across the country."

European Heart Journal. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehq006.

Tags: A&E | Europe | Fitness | Heart Health | UK News

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