‘School defibrillators can save our children’s lives’
ACHILDREN’S author from Widnes is spearheading an appeal to save the lives of Halton’s schoolchildren after it emerged that only 36% of schools in the borough have defibrillators, according to campaign group figures.
Sarah Oliver, as well as being an established author, is a patron of the charity Hand On Heart and is aiming to ensure that every one of the borough’s schools have a defibrillator.
Miss Oliver said: “I was so shocked when I heard how few schools in Halton have these life-saving machines.
“If someone has a cardiac arrest, the first five minutes are so crucial.
“If a defibrillator is used, the survival rate increases by 74%.
“Every week 12 young people die from sudden cardiac arrest in the UK, and approximately 270 cardiac arrests happen in schools every year.
“I’m pleading with the headteachers of every school and nursery in Halton to get a defibrillator fitted.”
Miss Oliver said that Hand On Heart’s mission is to keep children safe and prevent the deaths of the 12 young people who die of sudden cardiac arrest each week in the UK.
She said their three main aims are to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, particularly in young people, place defibrillators in schools and communities and to educate young people in life support skills.
Miss Oliver became a patron of Hand on Heart last year.
She said: “I was asked to be the patron alongside Paddy McGuinness.
“I visit a lot of schools to do author talks so I always ask them whether they have a defibrillator and explain how life saving they are.
“Until I was asked to get involved, I had no idea of the difference they make – they can be the difference between life and death.
“I was contacted by the charity after children from two schools that Hand On Heart visited to give a defibrillator, mentioned me and said I would be a good patron.
“I was very honoured to be asked and I’m really passionate about the case.”
Miss Oliver says defibrillators are not prioritised enough in the borough.
“I think people don’t think about defibrillators until one isn’t available and someone dies.
“I don’t want this to happen in Halton, my home borough.
“I think they should be a vital part of a first kit, whether at a school, community building or workplace.”
Miss Oliver said that knowing her child attends a school with a defibrillator gives her peace of mind that is priceless.
“A defibrillator isn’t expensive, typically £700 for a basic one.
“As a parent, it helps to know that the nursery my daughter Lizzy goes has one and when she starts school in September, the school has one.
“However, if she had been allocated a place at a different school, just a few minutes down the road there isn’t one.
“Not having a defibrillator could cost a child’s life, as using a defibrillator within five minutes increases survival rates by 74%”.
Manchester, Knowsley and Liverpool have defibrillators in every school thanks to the work of Hand On Heart and the Oliver King Foundation.
Miss Oliver said that these statistics, in comparison to Halton, are inexcusable.
“When I found out only one in three schools have them in Halton it made me feel angry because children’s lives are at risk and worried at the same time.
“A defibrillator could also save a teacher’s or a parent’s life too.”
Miss Oliver is also working to ensure that where there is a defibrillator, it is used correctly.
She says that everyone in the building must be prepared to use the equipment, knowing exactly where it is so that treatment can be administered in that crucial first five minutes.
Miss Oliver said that it there was no reason for a school to have a defibrillator given the relatively low financial cost for the amount of people who could potentially benefit. “I want a defibrillator in every school. “I would like to encourage the council to put money into the cause, get schools thinking about fundraisers and ask businesses to consider sponsoring a defibrillator in a school, or get one themselves if they don’t have one.
“If every child in Halton donated £1, we would be close to doing it.”
To contact Miss Oliver, email email@example.com ●
Sarah Oliver is calling for all schools to have a defibrillator