Lewis Brennan April 2024

Incident highlighted the value of a defib

THE importance of a working defibrillator was underlined at a recent match in Suffolk.

THE importance of having a working defibrillator was underlined during a ‘cardiac incident’ at a recent match in Suffolk.

Long Melford midfielder Lewis Brennan (pictured above) started feeling unwell just before half-time of their Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division fixture at Hadleigh United on April 9th.

The defibrillator on site at the Millfield was used to provide readings and monitor the 23-year-old until a first responder arrived.

The incident highlighted the vital role that defibrillators can play in potentially saving someone’s life.

Long Melford FC Manager Dave Hennessey said: “I had a similar incident with a player of mine many years back in a Sunday League game on Hackney Marshes.

“The defibrillator brought him back to life half-a-dozen times when his heart stopped before the air ambulance arrived and took him to hospital.

“The incident at Hadleigh brought back vivid memories of what happened that day.

“I can’t give enough credit to the officials at Hadleigh, whose response was first-class. Their physio Alex Barker was the first to respond to the situation and they were very quick to get the defibrillator.

“We only needed to use it for readings and not to shock Lewis, but it was vital to have that reassurance that everything was okay.

“We were able to re-lay the readings to the ambulance and were told that the incident had moved from a Category 1 to a Category 2, so it was very reassuring to have the defibrillator.”

Lewis Brennan said: “I never thought something like this would happen to me, but it did. I was lucky the defibrillator was not needed but to have it there gave me significant reassurance in a very worrying situation.

“Some people won't be as lucky as me and will need one. Each week 12 young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions. Having a defibrillator and staff trained in basic life support can reduce these numbers.

“I urge all clubs at all levels to have one and get trained in basic life support. It really can save a life.”

Hadleigh United FC Secretary Neil Henderson said: "The incident proved how vital it is having a defibrillator on site.

"Having seen it used for the first time it was invaluable as it took the pressure out of the situation.

"I would urge all clubs and facilities who do not currently have a defibrillator to see if they can get one as you never know when you might need it.

"At the very least they should make sure they have someone trained to use one.

"As a result of the incident as a club we are now considering purchasing one to take with us to away games "

Facilities in Suffolk may be eligible for funding via the Premier League Defibrillator Fund.

The fund provides investment from the Premier League to install Automated External Defibrillators (AED) and external storage cabinets at thousands of grassroots facilities, aimed at helping save the life of someone experiencing a Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

To see if your facility is eligible, click the button below.


As part of the Premier League Defibrillator Fund, successful recipients are required to register their defibrillator with The Circuit, the national defibrillator network linking defibrillators to every ambulance service in the country and public in a bid to save more lives.

Richard Neal, Suffolk FA CEO, said: “By registering your defibrillator with The Circuit, whether funded through the Premier League Defibrillator Fund or not, not only do you ensure others have access to your defibrillator when needed, but The Circuit also helps you keep on top of maintenance and checking the readiness of your defibrillator, sending reminders to check battery and that pads are in-date.

“Maintaining your defibrillator to be constantly in working order is even more vital than having a defibrillator in the first place – imagine needing a defibrillator, having a defibrillator, but it’s not usable or in working order… it doesn’t bare thinking about.

“Once you have a defibrillator, and it is maintained as being in full working order, next is to have the skills and knowledge to keep someone alive until a defibrillator arrives and they deploy the defibrillator correctly. The FA have a free, online, one-hour Sudden Cardiac Arrest module which anyone with an FA Number can access via the link below.”

To access the FA’s Sudden Cardiac Arrest Course click below.


As well as The FA’s course, Suffolk FA have also partnered with the British Heart Foundation for the 2023-24 season to raise awareness of their work and raise funds of their behalf.

The partnership followed on from work the Suffolk FA did with the BHF to promote knowledge of CPR.

Footballers and supporters across the region were encouraged to learn the lifesaving skill using the charity’s RevivR app, which enables people to learn CPR in just 15 minutes using just their mobile phone and a cushion. 

To access RevivR click the button below.


Richard Neal said “We are all delighted Lewis is doing well, significantly aided by those who confidently and competently attended Lewis throughout the incident. We hope he returns to the game as and when he feels comfortable and confident to do so.

“But in many aspects, Lewis was fortunate because this incident occurred at a match with lots of people watching, when he as a player is visible to all of those spectating, and where the two teams have trained medical personnel as part of their backroom staff.

“The vast majority of football in Suffolk is not playing in stadia, with lots of people watching, with three match officials, and with medical personnel present. It’s played on pitches marked-out on fields, with one match official, and one maybe two coaches who have many other responsibilities on match day.

An incident such as this, or even more serious, could happen anywhere, in any setting, and to anyone; player, manager, coach, referee, club official, spectator, passer-by… anyone regardless of age or fitness or gender or background.”

Even for those who play on a public field and don’t own the facility, and therefore may not be able to have a defibrillator onsite, knowing where your local defibrillator is and having people within the team who can deal with a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, including the ability to correctly use the defibrillator once it arrives, is of paramount importance.”

“Referees in Suffolk are given the opportunity to carry Medical ID cards in their wallet. These cards detail any medical conditions of the match official, such as underlying health conditions or allergies, the referees’ date of birth, and emergency contacts. Team managers and coaches having easy access to similar for all of the participants in the team is also very important should it ever be needed.”

So we have a call to action, and everyone can play a part:


1 - Find out where your most accessible defibrillator is. Communicate that as far and wide as possible!

2 - If you have a defibrillator onsite, make sure it’s regularly checked by a competent person and always ‘Rescue Ready’ in working order! Communicate where it is located so that anyone can swiftly and easily access it in an emergency

3 - If you do not have a defibrillator onsite, but would like one, investigate your eligibility for the Premier League Defibrillator Fund. If you are not eligible, contact info@suffolkfa.com

4 - Undertake training to provide CPR whilst the defibrillator is accessed and can correctly deploy the defibrillator once available. Access The FA’s free Sudden Cardiac Arrest course, work through the British Heart Foundation RevivR training, or take the full FA Introduction to First Aid in Football course. With all players needing a FA Number in order to register with a team, all coaches and managers having an FA Number, and even a parent of all Youth players having an FA Number, there’s no reason anyone should not be able to access training in some guise

5 - Have easy access to emergency information for all participants.


“As a Suffolk football community, let’s do everything we can to ensure incidents like which Lewis experienced are given the best chance of resulting in a happy outcome,” added Richard.

The Government has recently closed a £1million fund that has match-funded defibrillators in the UK (bids invited for £1 million defibrillator fund).

This fund could be reopened in the future, at which time Suffolk FA will share details.

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