'Lifesaving' defibrillators in schools must be a legal requirement
Lord Storey argues that defibrillators are essential to ensuring our children are safe in school and calls for them to become a legal requirement.
In March 2011 a tragic event took place at King David School in Liverpool, when a 12 year old boy, Oliver King, suffered a cardiac arrest while winning a swimming race. The tragic and untimely demise of that young boy bought indescribable grief to this family and friends and shocked the whole community.
It was noted that the 24 minutes that lapsed between Oliver’s cardiac arrest and the paramedics’ arrival would have seen the boy’s chances of survival considerably enhanced, had a defibrillator been available on the School premises.
For every minute that a patient that needs it doesn’t get defibrillation, their survival rate drops by 7-10%. Effective CPR extends the window but only on rare occasions are emergency services able to attend and provide defibrillation early enough. With this rate of decline the benefits of having a defibrillator within easy reach is clear.
Mark’s father resolved in the name of his beloved son that he would campaign relentlessly to ensure that every school does indeed have a defibrillator on site and indeed every Public Building is equipped with one.
Since the formation of The Oliver King Foundation 5 years ago, they have provided 1000 lifesaving defibrillators to schools, leisure facilities and businesses up and down the country and saving many lives.
It is now important to campaign to change the law to make this a legal requirement. We would never operate a school or public building without a fire extinguisher or provide a First Aid Kit, we would not put children on a bus without seat belts. For me, defibrillators are as essential a piece of safety equipment as these safety requirements.
There are other advantages too. A defibrillator in a school setting allows younger generations to become familiar with the device and learn their purpose. Through school led first aid training this could be incorporated into classes and training in CPR. School-age children have been shown to be capable of using defibrillators in simulated cardiac arrest scenarios, and many organisations are pushing for all schoolchildren to be taught these life saving techniques.
This year 270 young people will suffer sudden cardiac arrest in school – lets ensure that no parent or family receives the dreaded call that Oliver’s dad did.
Lord Storey is a Liberal Democrat peer, and is the Shadow Lords Minister for Education
Dr Steve Cox, Chief Executive of the charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), responded to Lord Storey's piece welcoming the call for AEDs to be more available, but said "whilst many young people will experience a cardiac arrest in public, it must be noted that 80% of deaths from SADS [sudden arrhythmic death syndrome] will have happened at rest or during sleep. This is why cardiac screening to identify conditions which can cause young sudden cardiac death is so important." Read the full response here.