Defibrillators in schools can save lives

I described new research into cardiac arrest prevention as “shocking” after it was revealed that only five local authorities currently have defibrillators situated in all of their secondary schools. 

Research by the Scottish Liberal Democrats shows that only 5 of the 26 local authorities which responded to a Freedom of Information request have defibrillators situated in all of their secondary schools. Meanwhile, four local authorities don’t have defibrillators in any secondary schools. 

Around 3,500 people in Scotland undergo attempted resuscitation for cardiac arrest outside hospital each year, but only around five per cent survive to hospital discharge. Use of a defibrillator within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest can increase survival rates to as much as 75 per cent. 

Our emergency services do an incredible job but getting an ambulance to someone within five minutes to administer a defibrillator can be extremely challenging. In a life or death situation every second counts and therefore it’s vitally important that such equipment is available quickly. 

Early last year Edinburgh City Council led the way in installing defibrillators in all of its secondary schools. Disappointingly, as this shocking research shows, other areas of the country are lagging behind in delivering defibrillator access for pupils and staff. 

These lifesaving devices should be available in every secondary school across Scotland. What’s more, with schools being used on evenings and weekends for community activities, situating these critical resources in public places and ensuring staff are trained to use them can benefit the wider public too.

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