Robin Swann slams defibrillator vandals and backs CPR training in schools

The vandals caught on CCTV damaging a defibrillator kit at a football club are a “disgrace”, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister has said.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 7:54 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 8:33 am

Robin Swann told the assembly the cardiac arrest of Danish footballer Christian Eriksen during his side’s Euro 2020 game against Finland on Saturday showed how “vital and life-saving” resuscitation equipment is and that the kits should be treated as such.

The Ulster Unionist politician said he would be “fully supportive” of CPR training being introduced in schools.

He described the scenes on the pitch as “disturbing”.

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The anguish shows on Danish players’ faces as Christian Eriksen is treated on the pitch on Saturday. Robin Swann says of defibrillators: "We’ve seen very clearly over the weekend how vital those pieces of equipment are"

Mr Swann added: “Those scenes we’ve also seen where people have taken to actually vandalise some of the resuscitation equipment that is placed publicly, I would say to them: You’re a shame and a disgrace.

“We’ve seen very clearly over the weekend how vital those pieces of equipment are.

“They are life-saving and should be treated as such.”

Inter Milan and former Tottenham midfielder Eriksen collapsed on Saturday during the first half of Denmark’s opening match.

He was treated on the pitch before being taken to hospital.

Denmark’s team doctor, Morten Boesen, later confirmed Eriksen was stable having suffered a cardiac arrest and that “he was gone” prior to being resuscitated.

On Sunday evening, Buxted FC posted footage of two people vandalising a defibrillator kit at the East Sussex club in the early hours of Sunday morning,

The footage, which the club has described as “heart-breaking” has been viewed more than a million times since it was posted on the club’s Twitter account.

Mr Swann made the comments during Question Time in the Assembly in response to SDLP’s Justin McNulty who asked about the importance Mr Swann placed on CPR training being made available in schools and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) being made available for sports clubs and organisations.

Mr McNulty said 17 years ago a former Queen’s GAA teammate of his, Cormac McAnallen, “went to bed and didn’t wake up” and that now his teammate’s mother had spoken “very passionately” about the need for AEDs and CPR training.

“Christian Eriksen had a very public cardiac arrest at the weekend, and only for the swift actions of his teammates and emergency services, he probably would have died,” he added.

Bridget McAnallen told the BBC that since Cormac’s death she had managed to donate 100 defibrillators to schools and sports clubs while subsidizing at least 300 more.

“It can be the difference between life or death,” she said.

“One of the defibrillators we supplied to Loughall FC actually saved two people.”

Ms McAnallen added that she has been calling for more cardiac screening in young people and more CPR training for sports clubs since 2004.

“We called for screening from the beginning but we were told that screening everyone just wasn’t possible,” she said.

“We do know a lot of people are now getting screened in Ireland.”

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