Tue | Oct 19, 2021

Mindset changing towards heart health for athletes – Clare

Published:Sunday | November 17, 2019 | 12:46 AMHubert Lawrence - Sunday Gleaner Writer

Five years have passed since Team Jamaica Bickle first presented an automated external defibrillator (AED) to a Jamaican school.

Speaking at the presentation of 15 more on Friday in Kingston, Team Jamaica Bickle CEO, Irwin Clare, says his organisation’s Defibrillators to Schools programme is making progress not only in distributing the machines, but also in changing mindsets on the issue.

Known for its support of Jamaican athletes at the world-renowned Penn Relays, Team Jamaica Bickle has now distributed defibrillators, which use an electric charge to restore normal heart function, to over 70 schools and provided training for over 250 users.

“We’ve had to sensitise folks as to what this is all about, what the machinery is all about, de-educate them about the ‘fact’ that you have to be a health professional and to realise that it has to become a modus operandi here in Jamaica,” said Clare, as recipients were being trained to use the machines.

“So, it’s not just about the presentation of these machines to schools, it’s about changing their mindset. That’s a slow process. We think we are making progress. We have now incorporated corporate involvement, which is so important and at the same token, the awareness of athletes,” he continued.

The Jamaica National Foundation (JNF) donated five AEDs for this round of presentations.

Friday’s beneficiaries were Annotto Bay High, Claude McKay High, Foga Road High, Glengoffe High, Glenmuir High, Jose Martí Technical High, Holmwood Technical High, Holy Childhood High, Holy Trinity High, Kellits High, Ocho Rios High, Robert Lightbourne High, William Knibb Memorial, the National Stadium, and the University of the West Indies Sports Department.


Jamaica’s 2017 World 5000 metre finalist Kemoy Campbell collapsed at an indoor meet in February but was revived with the help of an AED, and the Bickle CEO believes that will become a point of reference.

“Kemoy Campbell’s expectation (is) that he will be stepping up his game and using his experiences to sensitise and educate and so yes, and, of course, as stakeholders, those who have been supportive of Team Jamaica Bickle and endeavours over the years, we continue to thank them,” Clare said.

The initiative began in 2014 after the heart related death of a Jamaican athlete at the end of a race in Trinidad and Tobago in 2014.

Standing in support of Campbell at the presentation, were two of his international teammates – Fedrick Dacres and Rushell Clayton, who won silver and bronze medals in the discus and the 400-metre hurdles, respectively, at the recent World Championships in Doha, Qatar.