On the 17th of March 2012, White Hart Lane was ram-packed with 35,000 spectators. The FA Cup Quarter Final was in full swing as tensions were high between the home side Tottenham Hotspur and visitors Bolton Wanderers. It was approaching half time and both sides refused to let up with the scores level at 1-1. Zat Knight was screaming at his teammate Fabrice Muamba to drop back to his defensive duties as Spurs’ Gareth Bale pressed forward.
However, these directions fell on deaf ears as Muamba began to experience an unyielding headache that took his ability to not only run, but also to see properly. Suddenly, like a sack of potatoes, he hit the ground. For Muamba, this would be the last thing he’d remember. It didn’t take long for the medical teams from both sides to realise this was no ordinary injury; Muamba’s heart was not functioning.
The spectators and thousands of fans watching at home looked on as a player, renowned for his fitness went into cardiac arrest. Medical staff and a cardiac specialist attempted to resuscitate Muamba, but for over an hour these attempts proved unsuccessful. The match was called off as the players, pulling their jerseys over their faces in shock, watched Muamba being rushed off to hospital. Finally, after 76 minutes, the unresponsive player was brought back to life by a defibrillator.
Both players and fans were utterly shocked at the events that took place that day, but none more so than Muamba himself. “For me there is no such word as luck.” “When it happened, the right people were there for me,” he said when speaking after his fortunate rapid recovery. Without the use of a defibrillator, the Wanderers’ player would have been certainly dead.
According to Shauna Dunne, from AED suppliers Hibernian Healthcare, research has shown that regrettably this is not the first case of cardiac arrest on a football pitch, nor have other players been as fortunate as Muamba. A similar story closer to home occurred last year when a sixteen-year-old boy in Dublin went into cardiac arrest during a football match and sadly passed away shortly after.
Unfortunately, you will not find an AED at every soccer match across the country. This is extremely disheartening considering studies have shown that 28% of people survive a cardiac arrest in a public place, but where there is a defibrillator and someone trained to use it, the chances of survival can increase to 80%. With 13 people dying every day in Ireland due to cardiac arrest, there is a huge need for clubs to have the correct safety equipment and the correct people to use them on site in case such an emergency situation like this occurs.
Muamba now spends his time campaigning for more AEDs to be available in public places such as football clubs. It’s time now for Ireland to join this movement and provide the safest possible environment for their facilities and members. Hibernian Healthcare is one of a few companies across Ireland that can provide clubs with the medical apparatus and appropriate training needed to prepare for an emergency situation. In a cost effective way, clubs can gain the invaluable tools needed to save lives. If your club is looking to purchase AEDs or training regarding Cardiac First Response, please go onto http://hibernianhealth.com/store/ for more details.
Main image: Matthew Chadwick Wikicommons