Football accident sparks safety review

Provision of safety equipment in council facilities across the district is being reviewed following a football accident in Rathfriland, when a young boy had to be air lifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

The Valley Rangers U15s player, Stephen Parke, was knocked unconscious following a head injury whilst playing at the new 3G pitch.

Sending best wishes to the young boy who was injured, C ouncillor Glenn Barr made a call for defibrillation equipment to be installed in all 
council facilities.

“The council should be providing defibrillation equipment in all its facilities, including Rathfriland High School, as it could be used there in emergency situations by teaching staff during the day and community groups when the facility is hired out in the evenings,” said 
Councillor Barr.

Four facilities in the district currently have had defibrillation equipment installed.

This was following an analysis carried out by Health and Safety Advisors as to where the provision of defibrillation equipment in council facilities would best be placed.

The analysis was based on footfall and age profile, and the four facilities that met the criteria had more than 500 persons footfall per week.

Councillor Herron also stressed the importance of first aid training for staff at sports facilities.

“We are delighted that some people were near who had first aid training,” he said.

“Those in attendance at the football match at Rathfriland’s 3G Pitch were able to administer first-aid and give a level of comfort to the young boy who was injured until, emergency services arrived.

“It is essential that groups avail of first-aid training when it is being offered and these events have only served to emphasise the importance of such training.”

Councillor Ian Burns further suggested combining training for first aid and defibrillators. “Banbridge and District Sports Association provide first-aid training on a regular basis and could incorporate defibrillation training if required,” he said.

It is believed that Stephen has made a good recovery following the incident.

His father John, who witnessed the incident from the sidelines said: “Stephen got out of hospital after a four day stay. I think doctors just wanted to be sure that all was okay.”

Emphasizing the importance of having safety measures in place, Councillor Herron concluded: “you can never stop young boys playing football”, and true to form, the 14-year-old who is ‘football-mad’, plans to get back on the pitch as soon as he is fully recovered.