100% Biker 198

100% Biker 198
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I rarely get vexed about anything I read in newspapers or see on the news. The pressure to fill column inches, exacerbated by the immediacy of the internet, frequently leads to just that—filling and padding.

But, on a sunny Monday morning, I find myself quite exercised by one item. I am writing this the day after the Bulldog Bash, a weekend of which most memories will be of sun, motorcycles and trying to find sun cream because summer is apparently here. But the local press chose to report not that thousands of people had a jolly good time on a former airfield, but that one man had a heart attack.

The facts are that a gentleman in his 50s had breathing difficulties and took himself along to the First Aid tent. There he suffered a cardiac arrest and was promptly resuscitated by the Bulldog’s own medical team using CPR and a defibrillator. The chap regained consciousness and was taken off to University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire by ambulance.

Now, while I appreciate all too keenly that this will be a life changing episode for the man concerned (to whom we all wish the very best), let’s put this into perspective.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the United Kingdom’s single biggest killer and most deaths from CHD are caused by a heart attack. It’s responsible for around 73,000 deaths annually, or an average of 200 people each day. Now, that’s just the figures for deaths. CHD affects 2.3 million people in the UK and there will be a heart attack somewhere in this country every seven minutes. Yes, every SEVEN minutes.

So, why did the Stratford Herald, the Leamington Observer, the Coventry Telegraph, the Birmingham Mail and, yes, ITV News regard a story about someone having a non-fatal heart attack to be a news story? Would this have been deemed worthy of mention if it had been a visitor to a football match, the recent Ashes or even a Saturday afternoon shopping trip? It was something that could have happened anywhere at any time—and does all too regularly—and, in many other circumstances, with a heart-breaking rather than happy ending.

This was, it appears, the only story that the local press could dig up about this year’s Bulldog Bash, and two of those sources—the Coventry Telegraph and the Birmingham Mail—having not been able to link this story to gang warfare, drug taking or sheep rustling, managed (sadly unsurprisingly) to also mention the murder of Gerry Tobin seven years ago. ITV took an even lazier approach by digging in its library for a stock photo with which to illustrate this non-story, so that the ‘Man Has Heart Attack’ item appeared beneath an image of one of the 2008 checkpoints which managed to feature bikers with no less than ten police officers and four riot vans in it. While that may have been an accurate depiction of the event from that year, it certainly didn’t portray the 2015 event. But then when has ‘Bikers Have Nice Time And Go Home’ made for a good story?