A Dundee football coach and nurse who had his life saved with a defibrillator has relaunched his campaign to make the machines more accessible.
Jimmy Etchels, 45, first began campaigning for accessible defibrillators in Dundee two years ago after he suffered a heart attack and cardiac arrest while playing football at Drumgeith Park.
The nearest defibrillator was hidden out of sight and had not been charged.
Luckily, the ambulance arrived on time and paramedics used their defibrillator to save Jimmy.
Now, he said the life-saving equipment must be readily available in an emergency.
‘Hitting my head against a brick wall’
The survivor began campaigning and fundraising for more public defibrillators, however his plans soon died down due to a lack of support.
He said: “When I collapsed at Drumgeith the defib, if I had needed it, wasn’t available.
“That sort of kicked me into thinking that these things need to be accessible.
“I thought I’d start a campaign trying to get these defibs at our public parks in Dundee.
“I kickstarted that, I set up a Gofundme page and I didn’t really get much uptake.
“I contacted the council and councillors and I wasn’t getting anywhere.
“It wasn’t in the public eye – I was banging my head off a brick wall.”
Relaunching the campaign
However, following the collapse of Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen during their game against Finland on Saturday, Jimmy has chosen to reignite his campaign and strike while the iron is hot.
He said: “What happened to Christian Eriksen was so similar to what happened to me, it really struck a nerve and I was actually down on my hands and knees screaming at the TV while it happened.
“It got me thinking that I need to start again, because these are needed and now it’s in the public eye with millions of people watching it.”
Dundee businesses get involved
Instead of relying on public funding again, Jimmy has chosen to go to local businesses in an effort to get them to sponsor defibrillators, to be used at football clubs and in public spaces across the city.
So far, local companies such as spirit supplier JF Kegs and security company Panacea have gotten involved in the campaign, donating defibrillators and raising awareness of the cause.
Billy Hosie, managing director at Panacea, said: “As a local company I feel as though it’s our duty to support efforts like this and even take the lead in these campaigns.
“I lost a friend when I was much younger who died playing football, so I think the desire to do something like this has always been there.
“So far we’ve donated two defibs to local clubs, we tied it in to the Euros.”
Jimmy’s campaign has also received support from local politicians, with figures such as MSP Joe FitzPatrick throwing their weight behind the plan.
The SNP politician said: “Everyone who was watching the Denmark Finland game was shocked to witness what happened to Christian Eriksen.
“It showed how crucial it is to have defibrillators available and how important it is that we have more accessible defibrillators in the city.
“Mr Etchels has been in touch with me and I’m keen to meet with him to discuss how we can increase the numbers in Dundee.”
Council leader John Alexander has also shown an interest in increasing the number of accessible defibrillators in the city.
Mr Alexander said: “The recent collapse of Christian Eriksen brought a sharp focus on cardiac arrest.
“He was brought back from death as a result of a defibrillator.
“In Dundee, I know that all Leisure & Culture Dundee sports facilities have defibrillators in place and that these were funded, at least in part, through the Common Good Fund.
“I have asked the chief executive of Dundee City Council to assess the number needed and explore the installation of defibrillators at council football fields across the city.
“We never know when someone may face cardiac arrest and while the number of defibrillators across the city has increased significantly in recent years, there is a clear benefit to having them at locations such as football pitches.”
Councillor Lynne Short added: “I think that Eriksen has shown that this can happen to anybody, regardless of age or health.
“I’m keen to support Jimmy in any way I can.”