LRCL to become pioneers through Heartsafe League

The Everards Leicestershire and Rutland Cricket League (LRCL) has become the pioneer when it comes to heart safety in the grassroots game.

LRCL Premier League is the first in the country to make it a league requirement for all premier clubs to sign up to the Leicestershire & Rutland Heart Awareness in Cricket (HAC) scheme.

It will ensure that all clubs have an onsite defibrillator at their respective cricket grounds and provide basic Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillator familiarisation training for the membership of each club including players, coaches and officials. 

The initiative has been inspired by the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust (JHMT) which works tirelessly to raise awareness of sudden heart deaths following the death of Joe Humphries, aged just 14, from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) in 2012. SADS can strike anyone at any time, particularly those who would be considered to be otherwise fit and healthy.

HAC echoes key messages highlighted in the independent Duty of Care in Sport review, commissioned by the government and led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.  The review advocates more training and better awareness of cardiac health to help protect people – especially young people – who play sport. 

The review, which was released earlier in the year, highlighted the need for a greater all-round knowledge about heart conditions and symptoms that could lead to sudden cardiac arrest in sport.  The report also calls for more information and awareness about cardiac screening and for more club members to have basic hands-on CPR training and access to a defibrillator. 

Sileby Town and Rothley Park were the first clubs to commit to the HAC scheme last summer, and all the other Premier League clubs will be working during the close season to become a heartsafe division, by the start of the 2018/19 season. 

This groundbreaking work builds on a successful partnership between Leicestershire County Cricket Club (LCCC), the JHMT and HeartWize, which allowed more life-saving equipment to be installed at the Fischer County Ground prior to the ICC Women’s World Cup earlier this year. 

LCCC now has seven AEDs at the Fischer County Ground with locations including the Morningside Pharmaceuticals Medical Centre, Charles Palmer Suite, Mike Turner Cricket Centre and the Curzon Road gate. 

Leicestershire CCC Cricket Development Officer for Clubs and Leagues, Andy Hibberd, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for local cricket clubs to be part of an initiative that could save lives in the future. Nobody wishes to think about something like this happening on a cricket field but it is important that we are prepared as we can be.

"Having quality training and the right equipment across the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland is vital, and we are delighted that cricket is leading the way in this field. We are thankful for the support received from both LRCL and JHMT for providing financial assistance."

Sileby Town Chairman, Nigel Kinch, said: "Sileby Town is proud to house a defibrillator unit and has worked with JHMT to train players and coaches to be prepared for events that might need these procedures to be administered on any given matchday or training session.

"Training was given to everyone at the club, including our senior players and coaches, our junior sides and our women’s team. It upskilled lots of new people with the tools and confidence to provide a new workforce who can potentially help save a life."

JHMT patron and former Leicester Tigers and England rugby captain Martin Johnson CBE said: "I’m delighted that this key milestone has been reached to create a Heartsafe environment across Leicestershire Premier League Cricket.

"Tragically, I hear and read of many instances where people – including those who are very young –are dying unnecessarily. These devastating sudden heart deaths can be prevented. We need more people learning a few simple skills and being equipped with a defibrillator to deal with a cardiac emergency.

"Setting up a Heartsafe League like this one is a project that has been five years in the making for Joe’s Trust (JHMT), working closely with other key agencies. I look forward to the day when all Leicestershire sporting bodies and clubs have taken the necessary steps to bring about this level of heartsafe practice."

JHMT trustee Dr Mike Ferguson added: "The devastation of those affected by the death of any young person cannot be understated. SADS will never be eradicated, but being able to perform effective CPR and the prompt use of a defibrillator will give someone the best chance of a good recovery."

The UK needs to show that it is trying to significantly improve on the current 10% survival rate seen in those who collapse following a community cardiac arrest. The LRCL, through its commitment to the Heart Awareness in Cricket scheme, can only be viewed as a beacon of excellence."

* For more information about the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust (JHMT), please visit the website HERE