‘School de­fib­ril­la­tors can save our chil­dren’s lives’

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY CHRISTY BYRNE christy.byrne@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @ByrneChristy

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 sara­ho­liv­er­author@ya­hoo.co.uk ●

Sarah Oliver is calling for all schools to have a de­fib­ril­la­tor

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