EURO’S Eriksen: Improving Quality of First Aid in Local, Student Clubs
By: Victory Bernard
The 2020 Euro has come and gone. Rounded up on July 11th with Italy as the new champions of Europe, and England as Runners’ up, every team at the tournament exhibited their best to make their mark at every encounter. At the end, a total of 51 matches were played and 142 goals scored.
More thrilling about the tournament however, was not just the number of goals scored or the exhilarating performances of the players but a time in the tournament when the world stood still for a moment in panic as Denmark’s star, Christian Eriksen, collapsed during the first half of Denmark’s opening group stage game against Finland.
It was a most emotional moment for Eriksen’s family, his teammates, other players, the crowd of spectators at the stadium, and fans around the world who were glued to their phones and TVs, as uncertainty brooded at that point on what would befell the Midfielder. The game, which was under Group B had to be halted as the 29-year old was administered immediate medical treatment on the pitch to regain consciousness. Television images showed a trainer performing chest compressions on Eriksen.
Minutes later to the relief of all and sundry, Eriksen regained consciousness after special handling from first aid trainees. Spelled out as a Cardiac Arrest, the Director of the Football Federation, Peter Moeller, told Denmark’s national broadcaster DB that Eriksen had received a “heart massage” on the field while Tournament organizers reported that his condition had “stabilized.”
After such great save, the world of football in Europe revealed again it’s top notch ability to tackle timely and weighty accidents that could happen at unexpectedly during a game. The quality of medical execution in managing safety incidents on the football field with high level of professionalism must be embraced by football platforms and leagues who intend to ensure the safety of lives during a game.
Speaking on the issue in a broadcast on Aljazeera, a Professor of Cardiology, University of London, Sanjay Sharma, lauded the quality of the medical team’s response and stressed the need for the availability of proper first aid equipment at football games.
“The effort of the medical team was fantastic. We have a young man who is alive and will live for several decades. It is absolutely important to quickly get the heart started once there is a cardiac arrest because for every minute that lapses, the chances of survival drops by.”
“So when someone has a cardiac arrest, the important thing is to start a CPR immediately between a duration of two minutes to ensure the safety of the other organs of the body especially the brain. It is necessary that Automated External Defribulator (AED) machines are available. I can only speak for the English Football Association where all the 92 clubs affiliated with the association do have such Pitch side care,” the Professor explained.
Such prompt medical attitude and first aid action from the Euro incident is a safety cue that should be taken by both local and domestic leagues as no one knows when an incident could occur on the football pitch. As of Eriksen’s case, such way of responding has saved lives on the pitch, and strengthened the confidence of playing soccer. Recall cases of Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba, Abdelhak Nouri of Ajax, amongst others.
Beaming the light to Nigeria in West Africa, could we say same of our medical quality on the football pitch? Football is a greatly loved sport and Nigeria is no exception with it’s own growing League. Tertiary Institutions across the country both private and public organize football competitions among themselves where students of both genders express their passion for soccer. They also play to foster love and unity among each other. A football nation- the safety side of the game must be given adequate attention by all those involved from regulators down to players.
In an interview with a Lagos-based First Aid Expert, Mr Dare Akinfosile, he emphasized on the lack of preparedness of Nigerian football teams on the issue of First Aid and stressed further on the drought of knowledge on such skills during emergency situations.
“From the few incidents we have seen on TV, one can easily admit that our footballers do not know these things,” he said.
“Aside from professional footballers on TV or in various sport centres, if you go to the grassroots recreational football (which I also did for a long time and which I still do once in a while), you will find out that people are generally not educated when it comes to first aid, let alone performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.”
Narrating an experience Akinfosile said, “The last time it happened to a player from Nasarrawa United, the way the person was handled was improper. They were trying to force his mouth open; blow breeze on him at distance. Another person slapped him on his chest.”
“Two persons were raising his legs; shaking and spreading them. There were people around him. It was just a horrible sight. That is to tell you that we are not always prepared for things like this.”
“I have heard stories of persons who slumped and died. I have seen a few myself of some incidents. There was one incident that I saw where the ball was bashed into a player’s face and the player was temporarily blind. The guy’s eyes seemed clear but he could not see.”
“I was at a Polytechnic Games held in Lagos some years back around 2007 and it is even worse at that level because some of these players do not have that level of fitness compared to what we have in International games like the World Cup.”
“Everyone should learn First Aid. If you play football or engage in sports every week, you need to learn first aid,” he advised.
Speaking recently on the issue of safety in the football field, on Traffic Radio (96.1fm) at a Safety Programme titled, “Safety Train’ hosted by Fayo William” and monitored by HSENations, an Health Safety Security and Environment (HSSE) Professional, Desire Obanefe, lamented the problem of implementing sports safety in Nigeria as he called on team managers to take responsibility.
“Like it is common over here, a lot of things are pronounced. A lot of things are written on paper- self regulations and laws but the implementation is the problem,” he said on air.
“Usually when there is an emergency, one of the things we advise people to do is to make sure that the football field is safe and clear from rowdiness. The scene has to be safe. So team managers should take this seriously because it can save the day for them.”
He further highlighted necessary safety tips that football players at all levels needed to take into bosom during a case of emergency.
“So when you witness a person go down like that. Try to get response from the person. Get to the person’s ear. Shake the shoulders gently to see if you can get response. Perhaps the person can cough, can make a move or blink.”
“Then the next thing is to check whether he or she is breathing. This time all you need to do is to look at the chest- if it is moving up and down. Check to see if the person is breathing. If he is not breathing, then perhaps the person has suffered cardiac arrest.”
“So the next thing is to start what we call CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation). A combination of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breathes. That is the standard. But because of the COVID-19 now, there are new guidelines now which is the usage of hands only. Just to give chest compressions.
“The compressions helps to circulated oxygenated blood to the brain to keep him sustained until advanced medical help is accessed.”
He equally reiterated the need for “an Automated External Defribulator (AED) machine” noting that it should be “deployed immediately.”
“Fix it on the casualty’s bare chest and follow the instructions. AED will guide you in the rest of the instructions in the provision of First Aid,” he said.
Wrapping up, the consciousness of First Aid most times is placed looked at as only necessary for bigger football games such as Euros and Champions’ Leagues Games or top professional leagues. It is important that premium is placed on the safety of lives at local football and also schools.
These roles must be taken up by Regulatory agencies, Safety NGOs, government, School authorities and safety professionals, to create First Aid awareness. The efforts to embrace First Aid skills should be paramount among football lovers even those who play on the streets.
- Victory Bernard is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ikeja. He is guided by an Excellent Leadership spirit; he is highly productive and efficient in the art of journalism and communication. He is skilled in writing; reporting; event-coverage; newsgathering; investigation and news interpretation.
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