Deliveries of defibrillators have begun to all state-funded schools in England that don’t currently have the life-saving device.
Last year, the government committed to supplying state-funded schools across England with defibrillators to make sure there is a device in every school.
It follows campaigning from the Oliver King Foundation and its founder Mark King, who has worked to raise awareness of the need for defibrillators since he tragically lost his son at the age of 12 to cardiac arrest while swimming at school.
The deliveries of the first defibrillators mark the start of a roll out of over 20,000 defibrillators to almost 18,000 state-funded schools by the end of the academic year.
The government says it’s also supporting schools in making defibrillators available to the community, with external heated defibrillator cabinets being provided to primary and special schools in areas where provision is lower.
An internal cabinet is being provided to secondary schools that are receiving two or more defibrillators, so one can be placed at the school’s sports facility, where a cardiac arrest is more likely to happen.
The Oliver King Foundation and other leading charities, including the British Heart Foundation, Resuscitation Council UK and St John Ambulance, have supported the creation of updated guidance which will give schools the tools and knowledge they need to use their new defibrillators.
This is the largest defibrillator programme in England to date and will ensure that pupils and staff have access to this lifesaving first aid equipment.
The new guidance provides advice for schools on how to make their defibrillator available to the community. The government is also encouraging schools to sign up to The Circuit, the national defibrillator network.
As part of the rollout, awareness videos are being provided to show how simple defibrillators are to use, and schools are being encouraged to share these videos in staff meetings and assemblies.
This follows the announcement last month of a new £1 million fund to increase the number of defibrillators in communities most in need – providing an estimated 1,000 new defibrillators in community spaces across England.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Today we’re celebrating a huge milestone as we start deliveries of defibrillators to schools, working towards every school having one by the end of the academic year.
“None of this would have come about without the relentless and brave campaigning of Mark King and the Oliver King Foundation, and we are extremely grateful to him and other leading charities for the ongoing support they will doubtless provide schools from lesson plans to staff training.”
Founder of the Oliver King Foundation Mark King said: “This is a landmark moment and will be welcomed by pupils, parents and teachers up and down the country.
“It is a proud day for us because we’ve campaigned for schools to have access to defibrillators for over a decade. It is a major victory for the Oliver King Foundation.
“Defibrillators save lives and I have no doubt that lives will now be saved so that families do not have to suffer the heartbreak of unnecessarily losing a child. This is for our Ollie.”