McKevitt: ‘Muamba cardiac arrest illustrates need for sideline defibrillators’

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Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Community, News

Tottenham Hotspur's Benoit Assou-Ekotto (centre), William Gallas and Bolton Wanderers' manager Owen Coyle look on as Fabrice Muamba is treated on the pitch after collapsing

SDLP South Down MLA Karen McKevitt has renewed her call for referees in all football codes to take a lead in ensuring that defibrillators are available at all games. Karen McKevitt was present when Cllr Michael Cole collapsed and died while refereeing a GAA match in Ballyholland in July 2008. Since then two young adults whose families are well known to her have died on local pitches. McKevitt was also speaking after the very public case involving Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba was played out under the gaze of the television cameras across the world. Muamba, a former England under 21 international, collapsed with a suspected heart attack in the second half of his Bolton side’s game against Tottenham Hotspur last week. Although there was an initial fear for Muamba’s life, the quick reaction by doctor’s on the pitch has been hailed as potentially life saving. McKevitt said: “The case of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba has brought this issue to everyone’s attention again. Cardiac incidents are thankfully rare, and great work has been done by GAA clubs in making more defibrillators available. But the time has surely come when players and their families should have confidence in the provision of resuscitation equipment. It is up to the clubs to provide the equipment, but referees and their representative bodies are in a powerful position to ensure proper and even coverage of all matches. I would like to see them requiring that defibrillators be present on the sideline before they throw the ball in.” She added, “I intend to write to the representatives of referees in the various football codes to ask them to look seriously at this idea.”
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