Jamaica’s high school soccer star’s death sparks defibrillator push from the Diaspora

In the wake of the tragic passing of young footballer, Dominic James, last month, Team Jamaica Bickle is donating 15 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDS), to schools across Jamaica.

An AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient, and is able to treat them through defibrillation. The application of electrical therapy stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.

The official presentation and training will take place on Friday, October 14, 2016 at JAMPRO, 18 Trafalgar Road in Kingston.

Training will be conducted by experts from the Diaspora Healthcare Sector. The organization has also partnered with the Jamaica Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (JAMEMTS), based at the University of the West Indies, who will provide on-going training and support to recipient schools.

“We were in the process of sourcing defibrillators to present at a later date but in light of the recent tragedy we’ve decided to accelerate the hand-over to these schools,” said Irwine Clare, CEO and founder of the organization.

Claire said TJB is currently in the process of contacting the schools who will be receiving the AEDS. They include St. George’s College, Excelsior High School, St. Catherine High School, Marcus Garvey High, Garvey Maceo, Alpha Academy, Spot Valley, Oberlin High, Herbert Morrison High, York Castle High, St. Elizabeth Technical, Charliemont High, Dinthill Technical and Morant Bay High School.

Several of these schools were targeted, Claire said, because they lacked strong support programs while others were identified through collaborative efforts like the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

St. George’s and Excelsior were selected in honor of James, who collapsed during a match between the two schools and subsequently died at hospital minutes later.

Team Jamaica Bickle began its ‘Defibrillator to Schools Program’ in 2014 after the sudden death of athlete, Cavahn McKenzie, at a cross-country meet in Trinidad & Tobago. That same year, St. Jago was presented with an AED unit in his honor at the Penn Relays.

A medical area was also set up in tribute to McKenzie with health care practitioners led by the Jamaica Nurses Group of New York, providing training in first aid and CPR to athletes.

Since then TJB has held training sessions, partnering with Jamaicans Abroad Helping Jamaicans at Home (JAH JAH) Foundation to provide base-line free heart tests to some 100 students and presented another five units to Cornwall College, Petersfield High, Green Island High, Vere Technical and the G. C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport.

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