Campaign launched to provide defibrillators at local games

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A CAMPAIGN has been launched to provide defibrillators at all local football grounds.

Tommy Doherty, who has played, managed and refereed games in the Triangle area since the 1960s is calling on Coleraine and Ballymoney councils to back the campaign to provide the life saving equipment at all local football venues following the incident with teenage footballer Chris McNeill at this summer’s Milk Cup.

The County Londonderry player collapsed during a game in Portstewart and was only brought round thanks to the fast medical attention he received from a doctor who used a defibrillator at the ground.

Since then the Bertie Peacock Foundation has spent £6,000 on providing defibrillators at all Milk Cup venues next year.

But Tommy wants all local games to have the life saving equipment available to them.

“What happened to young Chris in the summer was terrible, but thankfully he survived because this equipment was at the ground,” Tommy told Times Sport.

“It brought home how important it is to have something like this at a sporting venue. It really is a matter of life or death.

“There are so many games played in the Coleraine and Ballymoney areas every week in the Hutchinson Tiles League, the Coleraine & District League and all the youth leagues.

“It would be terrible if something like this happened again and we didn’t have the equipment there to help save another life.”

Derry City Council recently recently placed defibrillators in all their Leisure Centres. The portable devices are small and easy to use, but could be the difference between life and death.

“When somebody collapses with a cardiac arrhythmia you’ve got a very small window to save the life of that person,” Dr Joe McAvoy, from Bayview Medical Centre, explained.

“The first few minutes are crucial and it’s very important to have access to something like a defibrillator to avoid any kind of damage.Definitely it can very much save somebody’s life.”

And Tommy is hoping the local councils of Coleraine and Ballymoney will come on board and provide funding for this campaign.

“We are hopeful the councils will back this,” he said. “We are also holding two fundraising nights on February 2nd and February 9th in Ballymoney RFC and The Railway Arms, Coleraine to raise additional funds.

“Tickets will be priced at £10 with all funds raised going to the purchase of these defibrillators.”

Times Sport understands the issue is to be discussed at tonight’s (Tuesday) council meeting in Coleraine.