Concern over lack of life-saving equipment at new stadium

By Connie Osborne 08/05 Updated: 09/05 16:36

A FATHER has hit out at the borough council for not having life-saving heart equipment fitted in the new Abbey Stadium, despite the fact it is installed as standard in leisure centres in neighbouring areas.

Robert Underwood planned to take his 13-year-old son Carrick Prentice to the new £6.5million centre but was horrified to find out it did not have a defibrillator, needed to shock the heart back into life following a cardiac arrest.

It is particularly important to Mr Underwood and his family as Carrick suffers from bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD) causing heart murmurs, while he lost his daughter Charlotte to Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome in 2010.

Mr Underwood said: "I phoned the centre just to check before we left if they had a defibrillator. To my horror, the girl I spoke to didn't know how to say the word let alone what it does.

"They have spent over £6 million on the new stadium, what's an extra £1,500? If we can't use the facilities in our town, where are we expected to go? It means travelling out and often having to pay more."

Birmingham City Council and Worcester City Council told the Standard it is protocol for defribillators to be available at all of their leisure centres and staff are trained to use them. Wychavon District Council say the majority of its centres have defibrillators and the staff at the Dolphin Centre in Bromsgrove will be having their defibrillator training shortly.

But Redditch Borough Council does not currently have a policy in place regarding installation of the equipment.

Sue Hanley, executive director for leisure, environment and community services on the borough council, said a discussion was held in April about making defribillators available in the council's public building and facilities, and at the next meeting of the council's health and safety committee in May a report will be presented to exploring the implications of installing the equipment.

"We are aware of public concern about the provision of a defibrillator at the Abbey Stadium. The committee were hugely supportive of the provision of defibrillators, subject to the findings of the report," she added.

Since Charlotte's death Mr Underwood has campaigned for defibrillators to be put in all schools and youth centres in the UK. Arrow Vale High School already has one on its premises, where Carrick attends.

"It's every school's policy to have a fire extinguisher on their premises. In reality, you can run away from a fire, but you can't run away from cardiac arrest," he added.

To help Carrick and others to get defibrillators in schools and youth centres join the Big Shock Campaign by calling Robert on 07794637073 or visit http://sadsuk.org.uk/newsite/ for more information.

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