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Euro 2020: How emergency CPR helped save Eriksen’s life

What is CPR and when should you perform it: All you need to know

christian-eriksen-ap File photo: Denmark's Christian Eriksen controls the ball during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Saturday, June 12, 2021 | AP

As Denmark’s Euro 2020 season kicked off with the game against Finland in Copenhagen on Saturday, horror befell fans and players alike as midfielder Christian Eriksen, 29, collapsed to the ground with nobody around him, appearing to need urgent medical attention.

Visuals of the moment, of shocked players from both sides and his own teammates shielding Eriksen from the camera as emergency personnel attended to him, went viral. Eriksen was carried off on a stretcher and later declared awake and stable in hospital, leaving fans across the world heaving a sigh of relief.

As details emerge of what happened, people are praising the first responders who performed CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on Eriksen, and his teammate and captain Kjaer who reportedly laid him on his back. In addition, within seconds of Eriksen falling to the ground, referee Anthony Taylor stopped the game and called for medics.

Al Jazeera reported Denmark team doctor Morten Boesen saying, “He was breathing, and I could feel his pulse. But suddenly that changed,” Boesen said. “And as everyone saw, we started giving him CPR.”

For many, the horror of the moment, of seeing someone fall and potentially be in a fatal situation with no sign of it in the moments before, may trigger some to inaction. But the quick response of medics and teammates are an ever-green reminder of the importance of knowing the right thing to do in such a situation.

What is CPR and when should it be performed?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation can keep the heart pumping blood until the patient can receive other medical attention. It may be needed in cases where a person has suffered a heart attack, a severe allergic reaction, a near-drowning, or other instances.

According to the CDC, “When a person’s heart stops beating, they are in cardiac arrest. During cardiac arrest, the heart cannot pump blood to the rest of the body, including the brain and lungs. Death can happen in minutes without treatment.1 CPR uses chest compressions to mimic how the heart pumps. These compressions help keep blood flowing throughout the body.”

To determine whether someone is in cardiac arrest, the CDC lists the following signs, “The person is unresponsive, even if you shake or shout at them...The person isn’t breathing or is only gasping.”

How should one perform CPR?

Push down hard and fast in the centre of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes a minute. Let the chest come back up to its normal position after each push. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends timing your pushes to the beat of the song “Stayin’ Alive.” This method of CPR is called “hands-only” and does not involve breathing into the person’s mouth.

After Saturday’s incident, several infographics were shared on social media showing the right way to perform CPR.

How is Eriksen now?

The Danish Football Association said they spoke to Eriksen in the morning, who sent his greetings to his teammates. “His condition is stable, and he continues to be hospitalised for further examination.”

Inter Milan team physician Piero Volpi told AP that Eriksen never contracted COVID-19, has no medical conditions that he was aware of and that he had passed every medical exam without problems since joining the club in January 2020.

After the match, the teams held an emergency meeting and decided to continue the game after it became clear that Eriksen was in stable condition. Finland went on to beat Denmark 1-0.


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