Heart machine is par for the course

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The Independent Online
GOLFERS AT a course in Merseyside can chip away at their handicaps safe in the knowledge that help is at hand should they suffer heart problems while out on the fairway. The pounds 600-a-year Grange Park, St Helens, is believed to be the first club in Britain to buy a potentially life-saving defibrillator.

The pounds 2,500 machine, which helps to resuscitate a cardiac arrest victim by electronically jolting the heart back into action, was bought after one of the club's members died within sight of the clubhouse.

Since the average age of a British golf club member is 51, every club runs that risk. "We have one or two active 70-year-olds, but our own average age is around 55," said Grange's Bob Golver. "That is an at-risk group but cardiac arrest can happen to anyone."

Praise for the club from the English Golf Union and several golf insurers came with an attached warning yesterday. "It is an enlightened move but even having one of these machines introduces problems," said Neil Hayward, golf services secretary of the English Golf Union. "If somebody is half- skilled in the use of it, I would be unsure what the legal implications might be. You must have somebody on hand to use it."

David Neill of insurance broker Carrick Neill, a specialist in golf insurance based in Edinburgh, agreed that the club "could be creating a problem" by establishing the potential for inadequate use of the equipment. "It's certainly enlightened and not something I've heard of before," he added.

However, Grange has done much to guard against this;heart specialists at nearby Whiston hospital were consulted before the purchase, and staff will be trained in the how to use the machine.

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