North East heart charity's CPR plea after fan collapsed at Newcastle match

A North East heart charity has issued a fresh message on CPR training after a football fan collapsed at St James’ Park during Newcastle United’s Premier League clash with Tottenham.

The Red Sky Foundation, a Sunderland-based cardiac health charity operating across the North East, spent much of Sunday, October 17, greeting Wearside shoppers and equipping them with information around cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for #RestartAHeartDay 2021.

CPR is an emergency technique that involves uninterrupted chest compressions (between 100 and 120 per minute) and mouth-to-mouth oxygen provision to compensate for a malfunctioning or failing heart function.

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Along with defibrillator shocks, the rapid administering of CPR can often be the difference between life and death in instances of sudden cardiac arrest.

Sergio Petrucci, founder of the Red Sky Foundation.

Mascots and a team of Red Sky volunteers had turned out at The Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland, helping shoppers understand how defibrillators and CPR works, before the news of the collapse in the stands had broken.

The organisation’s founder, Sergio Petrucci, said the response at St James’ Park was ‘textbook’, with players and supporters alike drawing attention to the incident.

“That guy who had the sudden cardiac arrest is probably sitting next to his guardian angel, who saved his life,” he said.

"This is because he started doing CPR straightaway. The fact that he was in a sporting arena was even better luck, really, since/in the sense that they were able to get a defibrillator to him immediately.

The Red Sky Foundation's Sergio Pettruci (left) with Bridges shoppers in Sunderland.

"The chain of survival was textbook, really – 50,000 people calling for help, the person next to the guy delivering compressions as soon as he’d collapsed and stopped breathing, the physio running over from the dugout with the AED instantly.

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"The most crucial thing is starting CPR as soon as possible. That saved his life.

"With every minute that passes, your chances of surviving drop by around 10% – but, as soon as you get to four minutes without any CPR, the brain starts to die because the oxygen starts to get cut off from the brain. So speed is of the essence.”

Between April 2018 and November 2019, there were 5,710 recorded sudden cardiac arrests across the North East. Bystander CPR was provided in only 1,614 of those cases and just 285 of those people survived to later be discharged from hospital.

Red Sky Foundation supporters and mascot out in numbers at the Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland.
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Mr Petrucci added that only around 30% of the UK population knows how to perform potentially life-saving CPR at present.

He consequently urged residents to contact the charity for support around CPR queries and training.

He said: “Every week, we go out to schools and public places to deliver these sessions, free of charge.

"And if we can teach one person the difference between saving someone’s life and not – telling them that no harm can be done to the person, since the person is ‘dead’ – then that’s something.

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A Red Sky Foundation mascot at the Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland.

"There's never going to be enough defibrillators out there until there’s one every 500 metres. We’re always looking for more volunteers to help us get the devices in popular public areas, in housing estates, to help us change the way AEDs are viewed up until the point where they’re as common as fire extinguishers up on walls.”

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