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Defibrillators to be given to schools

The government has announced plans to provide schools with defibrillator machines that could potentially save the lives of thousands of pupils.

Schools now have the option to buy easy-to-use defibrillator for a substantial discount following a reverse auction where suppliers bid for the lowest price they could provide the machine.

The machines require no training and deliver controlled electric shocks to the heart through sticky pads placed on the chest.

Initially the deal was for 500 machines, but the government intends to order further machines depending upon the quantities demanded by schools.

Schools Minister David Laws said: “Today's deal will benefit thousands of pupils and teachers by helping to put hundreds of life-saving defibrillators in classrooms across the country.

“Just as we have made schools better places for pupils to learn, it is equally important we ensure children and school staff are cared for in the rare event that they suffer a cardiac arrest. I encourage all schools to seize upon this excellent deal the government has struck on their behalf.”

As well as being provided with the technical equipment, the government has also issued the 'Automated external defibrillators (AED) a guide for maintained schools and academies' which not only outlines the advantages of having an AED, but where schools can purchase them, where they should be kept, and how they should be maintained.

The announcement results from a collaborative effort between the Department for Education and the Department of Health and could mean the difference between life and death for potential pupils who suffer cardiac arrest on school premises.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation said: “More than 30,000 cardiac arrests occur out of hospital in the UK every year, yet just 1 in 10 people survive. Immediate CPR and early defibrillation are crucial steps in saving someone's life.”

Sue Killen, chief executive of St John Ambulance, agreed: “Time and again, defibrillators have proven to be the difference between life and death.

“We encourage school leaders both to install defibrillators and to equip their school communities with life-saving skills.”