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Perth International Golf Championship

Bernard and Lesley Gallacher launch heart awareness campaign

Last Updated: 16/12/13 11:06pm

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Bernard Gallacher has launched a campaign to have defibrillators available at every golf club in the country following his brush with death earlier this year.

The former Ryder Cup captain suffered a cardiac arrest during a function at the Marcliffe Hotel in Aberdeen in August.

The 64-year-old insists he owes his life to the quick treatment he received after collapsing, which included the use of a defibrillator that had been installed at the hotel.

Gallacher and his wife Lesley have now launched a major campaign to raise awareness of the need to have defibrillators close to hand in a bid to increase the percentage of survivors of cardiac arrest.

He also compared his life-threatening incident to that of former Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba, who was fortunate to survive a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup clash with Tottenham at White Hart Lane in March 2012.

"The problem with cardiac arrest is that you always feel fine - that's the danger," said Gallacher, whose campaign has been backed by the Arrhythmia Alliance and the British Heart Foundation.

"If you have a heart attack, there's usually pain associated with it and the warning signs are there.

"But there are no warning signs with a cardiac arrest. There were no warning signs when Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the football field. He, like me, was very lucky there were people around that saved his life and my life.

"My wife Lesley has been the driving force behind this campaign. She was told what happened at the Marcliffe Hotel in Aberdeen, where a defibrillator was quickly in evidence and I was given treatment, just like Fabrice Muamba.

"That's why we're anxious to get defibrillators into golf courses. A golf club is a good place because you have young, middle-aged and older people playing golf and it can attack at any age."


Lesley Gallacher added that more should be done to educate people on how to treat victims of cardiac arrest and heart attacks as she reflected on almost losing her husband.

"We're on a mission," she said. "There's no excuse for not having a defibrillator. They're not terribly expensive and it would make such a difference to save somebody's life as we've seen.

"What I have learned is the lack of knowledge there is out there, as well as learning the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest.

"People can make a difference, you can't do any harm by using a defibrillator. Also, CPR is something we should all know how to do."

Bernard added: "Around 100,000 people die of cardiac arrest every year, only one in 10 survive an attack and I'm one of the one in 10. If we can get more defibrillators out there and an awareness campaign then we can definitely save lives. That's what it's all about - saving lives.

"I actually owe my life to a man called Colin Laden, who is here at Wentworth for the launch. He quickly realised what was happening to me and started CPR on my chest. He asked for a defibrillator to be brought in, and he kept me going until the ambulance arrived.

"The more awareness we can raise, the more lives we can save. Hopefully we can get that percentage up from one in 10. It would be nice to get it up to 50 percent.

"We're trying to link the campaign to competitions within the clubs, with the entrance fee going towards a fund to buy a defibrillator.

"We're also linking it in with some Ryder Cup tickets and other prizes as well, so there's a big incentive to join this campaign and try and get these defibrillators into the clubs."

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