LibLink: Mike Storey on defibrillators in schools

Over on Politics Home, Mike Storey has written about the need for defibrillators in schools, and calls for them to be a legal requirement.  He writes:

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.

He continues:

It is now important to campaign to change the law to make this a legal requirement.

… 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.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • It seems very unlikely that a teacher in modern day british school would use a defibrillator on a child. When my child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 7, he had to inject himself. Teachers are not willing generally to administer medicines. The closest thing to defibrillator for a Type 1 is Glucagon, a simple injection into a muscle that can stop a severe hypo worstening while an ambulance is on its way. Most schools are unwilling to administer glucagon. These days liability is more important than guardianship and caring.

  • I’m a trained First Aider, and while I’ve never used a defibrillator, or been on one of the specialist courses, we did talk about them a lot and were shown the training videos.

    They really are easy to use, and require less skill than an injection. They probably require less skill than basic CPR, because the device talks you through what to do, and it will assess the patient to check if they will benefit from a shock before administering a shock. In short, they are idiot proof. I recommend everyone watches a demonstration video to see how easy it can be.

    I think there should be more of these, but I’d question whether schools are the priority compared with locations where heart attacks are more common. I would, however, try to target areas that are more remote from ambulance services. That said, having them in schools would mean that they could be shown to students as part of first aid training, which would have long-term benefits for society.

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