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Tuesday 20 March 2012

Cech praises positive medical changes

Chelsea keeper says developments since 2006 could have saved Fabrice Muamba's life

Petr Cech receives treatment after suffering a horrific injury against Reading in 2006

Chelsea keeper Petr Cech has paid tribute to the developments regarding medical facilities in and around football matches after Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest.

Muamba collapsed during the FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham on Saturday, but after receiving attention on the pitch he was taken to the London Chest Hospital.

The 23-year-old is in intensive care but showed signs of improvement on Monday, recognising family members and responding to questions.

"Fabrice has a better chance to survive because of all the medical equipment around the pitch"
- Petr Cech

Cech admits it has made him think back to when he had to undergo surgery for a depressed skull fracture after a collision with Reading's Stephen Hunt in a Barclays Premier League match in 2006.

He told Chelsea's official website: "I was watching the game and I was glad that after the incident that happened with me at Reading, where it took so much time to get me off the pitch and people couldn't get me out of the dressing room, imagine if that had happened with Fabrice. Back then he might have had no chance.

"I was glad to see that since then, all the medical issues and structures have changed for the better and now he has a better chance to survive because of all the medical equipment around the pitch.

"It's a great change because sometimes it can only take a few seconds to change our lives and it's good now that after what happened with me at Reading, people have got the facilities and medical rules improved."

Widespread support

Cech says Saturday's scenes from White Hart Lane stunned all the Chelsea players, with the Blues in FA Cup action against Leicester City the day after.

Defender Gary Cahill revealed a 'Pray 4 Muamba' T-shirt after scoring Chelsea's opener, and Cech says the whole club is rooting for Muamba to get better.

"You could see that Gary had a message, everybody at the club made a statement prior to the game," added Cech. "All the players hope he will be able to recover, and obviously for his family, our thoughts are with them because it's going to be a very difficult time for everybody close to him.

"Everything we have put in place since Petr Cech helped Fabrice at least have a chance"
- Richard Scudamore

"We tried to win the game and do our best, the guys had the message and you could see they were desperate to score to show it.

"You feel for the family and the people who are close to him and the players that are on the pitch because it's difficult. Unlike my injury, with this one you knew straight away how serious it was.

"Everybody made the correct decision to stop the game because I don't think the players would have had the concentration to continue."

On Tuesday, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said procedures would be reviewed in the wake of Muamba's collapse, just as they were when Cech suffered his injury six years ago.

"Incidents and events shape policy, shape developments, shape progress," said Scudamore. "We will look at every aspect of what happened - just like we did after Petr Cech - and if there are ways and means of improving we will do everything we can.

"In some ways, Fabrice's life, if it is saved - and let's hope it has been saved - is as a result of the things a lot of us put in place after what happened with Petr.

"If you saw what happened on Saturday, the immediate attention, everybody comes out of this with huge credit, the referee, the match officials, the way the medics were there.

"[Then Chelsea manager] Jose Mourinho made some strident comments about the treatment that Petr got. Everything that we've put in place since helped Fabrice at least have a chance."

Medical provisions

There are a number of medical provisions in the Premier League Rule Book for all clubs. These include:

  • All professional senior players to have a cardiological examination as early in their careers as possible and again if the annual medical screen shows any results that warrant a further examination
  • Each club to have its doctor at matches
  • Club doctor to be seated on trainers' bench
  • All doctors and physios to complete AREA training course (Advanced Resuscitation and Emergency Aid)
  • At least two paramedics to be available pitch side to deal with on field emergencies
  • Ambulance to be located at ground for exclusive use of players
  • Home club to provide away club with medical info sheet containing key contact numbers/location of nearest hospital etc
  • Home club to have available mandatory medical equipment as prescribed by Premier League
  • Annual medical examinations to be carried out on all players

There are also medical/screening rules in the Youth section of the Premier League Rule Book. Rule 189 requires all Academies to:

  • Ensure that all Scholars (16-18 year olds) at Premier League clubs must go through a cardiological examination/screening
  • Ensure that each of its players undergoes age-appropriate medical and physical screening to measure physiological and fitness
  • Have a doctor or paramedic present at each game in the professional development phase (Rule 194 clarifies that an appropriately qualified member of staff must be available at ALL matches and training sessions - appropriate qualifications being the First Aid at Work qualification)
  • Ensure a defibrillator is available at each coaching and match venue and that staff are trained in its use across all academies

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Key Points

  • Cech praises improvements in medical facilities around football matches
  • Keeper suffered depressed fracture of the skull during match at Reading in 2006
  • He says progress may have saved Fabrice Muamba's life after his cardiac arrest