Research shows that 270 children die in school each year as a result of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), with an average of 12 healthy young people suffering from fatal undiagnosed heart conditions each week.
School staff are required to undergo training in the use of AEDs, yet, despite these statistics, defibrillators still aren’t a mandatory health-and-safety requirement for schools, with many opting not to invest in this life-saving equipment.
“Out-of-hospital cardiac arrests remain a leading cause of death in the UK, with schools proving to be a danger spot for sudden cardiac arrests. Children are especially at risk because their bodies are still developing, which makes them vulnerable to commotio cordis, where an impact from a blunt object – i.e. a football hitting them in the chest – can send them into cardiac arrest.” (defibshop Creative and Marketing Manager, Emma Lloyd)
Teachers are expressing concerns of liability for a child’s death following the use of an AED, presenting a potential barrier to AED use.
However, the Resuscitation Council states:
“Although there have been few cases in the United Kingdom where a claim has been brought against a ‘rescuer’, there have been no reported cases where a victim has successfully sued someone who came to his aid in an emergency.”
Although defibrillators aren’t a mandatory piece of health-and-safety equipment in UK schools, local MPs are starting to back organisations who campaign for laws to be introduced. Most recently, Altrincham and Sale West’s MP, Sir Graham Brady, has joined the cause.
If a defibrillator is used in conjunction with effective CPR within 3-5 minutes of a cardiac arrest, it can increase the victim’s chance of survival from 6% to 74%, which would dramatically increase the survival rates of children who suffer SCAs in school. Without immediate treatment, 90-95% of sudden cardiac arrest victims will die.
Measures have to be taken to ensure that school staff are kept up-to-date with the latest training on pediatric defibrillator use.