An NHS chief today begins recruiting for “Eriksen's Army” to teach people CPR skills and how to use defibrillators.

National medical director Professor Stephen Powis hopes last weekend's Euro2020 horror – when Danish star Christian Eriksen was revived on the pitch after collapsing during his side's clash with Finland – can inspire people to learn lifesaving techniques.

The Mirror yesterday launched our Defibrillators Save Lives campaign to have the devices installed in all public places – a crusade backed by former Bolton player Fabrice Muamba. He suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during a Premier League match in 2012.

Prof Powis will kick off a partnership with St John Ambulance to deliver an NHS scheme encouraging everyone to learn CPR and how to use defibrillators.

“Since Eriksen’s collapse at the weekend, we have seen kind-hearted Brits sharing information online on how to do CPR and save a life. Today, I’m calling on them to go one step further and train to teach CPR as we know this will mean more lives like Christian Eriksen’s will be saved,” Prof Powis will tell the NHS Confederation Conference.

“It is clear the footballer’s life was saved by urgent medical attention on the pitch – just like Fabrice Muamba nine years earlier.”

National medical director Stephen Powis
National medical director Stephen Powis

St John Ambulance and NHS ambulance trusts will develop a network of defibrillators and “community advocates” to champion the importance of first aid, which will help save up to 4,000 lives each year by 2028.

St John aims to train 60,000 people as part of the programme.

At least 30 volunteers from each of England’s 10 ambulance trusts will be supported to teach vital skills.

Prof Powis added: “If more people had the confidence and skills to call 999 quickly, deliver effective CPR until the ambulance crew arrive, and use a public access defibrillator, the number of lives saved would double.

“We saw a massive rush in willing volunteers to help lifesaving activity during the pandemic and we hope that even more people will be inspired to join our Eriksen’s Army, learn CPR and become lifesavers.”

St John Ambulance head of community response Adam Williams, said: “We’re looking forward to working with training providers, charities, businesses, and all people – young and old – to break down the barriers to learning these lifesaving skills, giving people the confidence to take action when it’s needed.

“Following Eriksen’s collapse on Saturday night, we’ve seen a 1,000% increase in calls asking for CPR training.

“In addition, searches for 'CPR advice' are up 565% and defibrillator guides up 1,900%.”