The sprawling rugby grounds in the Sugadaira Highlands in Nagano Prefecture, where players come from all over the country to train in the summer, are now equipped with portable medical devices to deal with sudden cardiac arrest.
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were distributed to all 105 rugby pitches at the famous training camp site in July following an incident the previous summer.
Last August, a member of a varsity rugby team suffered cardiac arrest during a practice match at an athletics park run by a local municipality.
Luckily the referee was a heart surgeon and an AED was available at the nearby park office. The affected player was saved by prompt first aid.
But many other rugby pitches in Sugadaira, usually run by traditional ryokan hostels, are located away from hostels where AEDs are available.
“The incident made ryokan operators realize that a similar case could happen on their grounds at any time,” said Yuri Hosokawa, 34, an associate professor of sports science at the University’s Faculty of Sports Science. Waseda University.
She launched a project to equip the Sugadaira rugby pitches with a DEA with Mana Otomo, 33, a researcher at the Japan Institute of Sports Sciences. The project is called “SAFE”, short for “Sugadaira AED for Everyone”.
The survival rate is said to decrease by 10% per minute after a person suffers cardiac arrest.
Coaches and doctors often do not accompany college and high school rugby teams.
Hosokawa and Otomo approached the Japan Rugby Football Union, which secured funding for the project.
A total of 105 DEAs have been leased to ryokan operators for use on their grounds. A training session was organized on the use of the devices.
“A lot of people wanted to make Sugadaira safer and provided help,” Otomo said.
Hosokawa said, “Placing the devices will raise awareness of life-saving efforts.”
Teruhiko Yamaguchi, who runs a cluster of 44 ryokan inns with rugby pitches, expressed his gratitude.
“AEDs are expensive and it was difficult for us to equip our pitches with them without help,” he said.