The family of a young Derry man who died suddenly from a previously unknown heart defect are backing a series of CPR training sessions in a bid to prevent further untimely deaths.
Eglinton man Kevin King was just 22 years of age when he collapsed during a game of indoor soccer in November last year. Despite efforts to resuscitate him, he was later pronounced dead at Altnagelvin Hospital.
Last night, his family were joined by friends and members of the local community to support the first of series of British Heart Foundation (BHF) Call Push Rescue training sessions run by St Mary’s GAA Slaughtmanus – the club where Kevin made his mark as a talented centre-forward.
The family also donated a defibrillator in his memory, which will be housed at the adjacent St Mary’s Church at Tamnaherin and available at all times for use by the local community in the event of a cardiac arrest.
The King family donated the lifesaving machine and received the Call Push Rescue training kit following their successful application for a BHF Nation of Lifesavers Community Package.
The Community Package contains the innovative kit which includes a defibrillator and the equipment needed to learn CPR in half an hour. St Mary’s GAA club will offer CPR training using the kit.
The defibrillator is a portable device that can be used by a member of the public to help restart the heart when someone has a cardiac arrest. For every minute that passes without defibrillation and CPR, chances of survival decrease by around 10 per cent. So it is vital the local community know both of these vital steps to help someone in an emergency.
“Kevin was totally dedicated to Slaughtmanus all his life, so it is only fitting that this priceless training should be rolled out here, and that this new defibrillator be fitted nearby,” said older brother Martin King, a doctor in Derry.
“The chances of surviving a cardiac arrest outside of hospital can be as low as 10 percent, but this is increased with good, timely CPR. However, this can often be administered incorrectly or not at all, simply because people are too scared to do it or don’t know how.
“Through this training, we hope to equip members of the club and the surrounding community with the confidence to administer CPR and use the defibrillator if needed – helping to prevent untimely deaths in the future.
“That Kevin should leave such an important legacy is both a comfort and a huge honour for us as his family,” he said. “We were so proud of Kevin in life, and we are so proud of him now.”
Since Kevin’s death 10 months ago, his family have already raised tens of thousands of pounds for BHF through a series of fundraising events and initiatives.
Speaking at the first of the CPR courses last night at Slaughtmanus, Karen McCammon, from BHF NI said:
“It is truly humbling to be part of the King family’s campaign to save lives after the tragic death of their son and brother Kevin. They have not only raised tens of thousands of pounds in his memory, they have now funded the defibrillator in the heart of his community and are supporting the Call Push Rescue training in his GAA club.
“It is a testament to the family that they are saving lives today as well as raising vital funds to fund research that will save lives tomorrow.
“The lifesaving skills taught using the Call Push Rescue kit will be vital in giving people the confidence to step in and try to save a life when they see someone suffer a cardiac arrest. Approximately 1,400 cardiac arrests happen out of hospital in Northern Ireland every year but currently less than one in ten people survive. This first training session in the club is a fantastic step towards training the Slaughtmanus and wider Derry community in CPR and equipping them with the skills to save a life.”
BHF NI asks for a contribution of £400 towards each defibrillator as part of the Community Package. To find out more about defibrillators and how to place one in your organisation or community, visit bhf.org.uk.
For more information on how you can help BHF create a Nation of Lifesavers, visit bhf.org.uk/lifesavers.