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University’s defibrillator initiative recognised by MSPs

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The University of Stirling was recognised at the Scottish Parliament.

The University of Stirling’s decision to introduce 11 new defibrillators to campus – taking the total number to 20 – has been celebrated by politicians at Holyrood.

Alexander Stewart MSP lodged a parliamentary motion to recognise the initiative, just days after the new defibrillators were launched by Stirling student and cardiac arrest survivor Finlay Richardson.

Finlay suffered a cardiac arrest during lacrosse training on the University pitches in 2016 – and only survived thanks to the actions of sports centre staff and paramedics, who used a defibrillator to restart his heart.

In the motion, Mr Stewart asked that the Parliament “welcomes the initiative by the University of Stirling to install more defibrillators within its campus” and “acknowledges that teammates and staff used CPR and a defibrillator to keep Finlay alive while paramedics arrived”.

The Conservative politician, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “There are now 20 defibrillators on campus, all registered with the Scottish Ambulance Service for public access, which means that call handlers can direct people to the nearest device in a cardiac arrest emergency.”

He concluded the motion – which has received support from more than 10 MSPs – by asking Parliament to commend University Principal, Professor Gerry McCormac, and University staff for their forward thinking.

Eilidh Watson, Finlay Richardson, Gareth Allan with new defibrillators

University sports centre staff Eilidh Watson and Gareth Allan helped to save the life of Finlay Richardson (middle).

Finlay, a keen footballer and lacrosse player, was just 20 years old and a third-year student at Stirling when he collapsed during an evening training session on the University’s sports pitches.

As he lay unresponsive on the pitch, concerned lacrosse teammates alerted sports centre staff who arrived on the scene moments later. Gareth Allen, Conor Kerr, Kevin McIntosh and Eilidh Watson – one of Finlay’s friends – carried out cardiopulmonary resuscitation and used the sports centre defibrillator to administer shocks in a bid to save his life.

Thanks to the efforts of Finlay’s lacrosse teammates, University staff and paramedics, he was able to make a full recovery.

Speaking at the launch of the new devices on August 3, Finlay, now 23 years old and working on his PhD at Stirling, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the University is introducing these new defibrillators – I speak from personal experience when I say that they can make a vital difference.”

Alison Morrison, Head of Safety, Environment and Continuity at the University of Stirling, whose department led the initiative, said: “The safety of our staff, students and members of the public is of paramount importance to us. We know that, in the case of cardiac arrest, defibrillators are vital in ensuring the best chance of survival – that is the reason we have introduced 11 new devices to campus.

“We hope that these devices will never have to be used, however, as we have seen in Finlay’s case, they can make a real difference in saving a life.

“The University is proud to see its work in this area celebrated by the Scottish Parliament.”

The new defibrillators were introduced as part of an initiative led by the University’s Safety, Environment and Continuity department. Twenty defibrillators are now located across campus, with six at University residences (Alexander Court, Andrew Stewart Hall, Beech Court, John Forty Court, Spittal Hill, Union Street); five at the sports facilities (Alangrange strength and conditioning suite, Craig Gowans Football Centre, gym, swimming pool and golf pavilion); and others in the campus security car; the library, Macrobert Centre; and property management offices. Another is due to be installed at Pathfoot Building.

Two devices are held by Airthrey Park Medical Practice (doctors, dentist), while the sports laboratory in Cottrell Building and the Union football team have one each.

All of the new defibrillators will be registered with the Scottish Ambulance Service for public access, which will allow emergency call handlers to guide callers to the nearest available defibrillator in the event of a cardiac arrest.

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