Life-saving defibrillators to be installed at four grassroots football sites in Portsmouth

The Friends Fighting Cancer charity has teamed up with Portsmouth City Council in a move which could potentially save lives.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 11:39 am
Josh Miroy collapsed at King George V during a Sunday League match last autumn. A defibrillator will now be installed at the venue, along with one at three other sites in and around Portsmouth.

Following discussions, defibrillators are to be installed at four venues across Portsmouth - King George V in Cosham, Farlington, Paulsgrove Rec and Rugby Camp - where grassroots football matches are played.

The funding for all four has come from Havant-based Stag Security, who are no strangers to football as they are the shirt sponsors for the Havant & Waterlooville FC Academy squad.

Defibrillators are devices that give a high energy electric shock to the heart to someone who is in cardiac arrest.

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A defibrillator. Pic Steve Robards

Use of a defibrillator - combined with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) - is the only effective treatment for a heart attack.

Nationally, the average survival rates from cardiac arrests outside of a hospital setting are less than 10 per cent. But if a defibrillator and CPR is used prior to an ambulance arriving, the rate improves to more than 60 per cent.

The defibrillator scheme is the idea of FFC founder Ray Ogilvie, on the back of a serious incident at King George V last autumn when Sunday League footballer Josh Miroy, 17, suffered a suspected heart attack.

Following that, the local football community rallied round, raising over £9,000 for Josh and his family through an online Crowdfunding page.

‘We’re a huge community of footballers, I know that from being involved at Horndean, FFC and Co-op Dragons,’ said Ogilvie, who also used to play for AFC Portchester.

‘We’re a small island but we’ve got massive togetherness. If something bad happens we all rally around, and the support there was for Josh was incredible.’

FFC have organised charity football events for over a decade and Ogilvie admits a serious incident will happen at one of them one day.

‘We had an incident at a FFC match in Bournemouth where one player collapsed,’ he recalled.

‘People were saying it was only dehydration but I’ve done some first aid courses and I could see something wasn’t right.

‘We called an ambulance and it turned out that the player had an irregular heartbeat.

‘We (FFC) must have played around 300 matches, thousands of minutes, and we have not had a major incident.

‘I’ve said to people, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

‘I’ve got a defib in my charity van that’s always out with me on a Sunday where the FFC team are playing (in the City of Portsmouth League), but it’s not enough.

‘I find it crazy that there’s no defibs at any of the major grounds.

‘We needed to raise around £5,000 and our initial idea was asking companies for £400-£500, and if needs be we’d beg and scrape the rest.

‘As it was, Stag Security have sponsored the entire lot – huge thanks to them.

‘The installation is around £3,700 and FFC will cover that - the total cost is £8,738.

‘It’s not just a case of putting them up, they need to be in a special temperature controlled and heated box so they work in the middle of winter.

‘A big thanks to Portsmouth City Council - they could easily have said ‘no, but they said ‘yes’.

‘Adrian Rossier at the council has been a magician in making this happen.

‘A lot of players are going be covered by this - think of the number of players who turn up and play at those venues each week.

‘As I said, it’s a matter of when and not if, so I would like to think it will be a lot safer when the defibs are in place.

‘It’s a case of saying to the players ‘we’ve got your backs’.

‘This is going to be the first of many projects we want to do for the Portsmouth community.

‘If we can say yes to a project, we will say yes.’

There is currently no timescale as to when the defibrillators will be installed at the four venues.

Cllr Steve Pitt, Portsmouth City Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development, said: ‘We are pleased to help Friends Fighting Cancer with their plans to have defibrillator units installed at four sports grounds in the city.

‘As soon as the funding has been confirmed we will be arranging for the units to be purchased and installed.’