'This is for our Ollie' – schools defibrillator roll-out begins

There will be a defibrillator in all state-funded schools in England by the end of the academic year after the first of 20,000 units were dispatched.

It comes after campaigner Mark King – who lost his son Oliver to a cardiac arrest aged just 12 – convinced the Department for Education (DfE) to take action.

Deliveries have begun this week to schools that don’t currently have a device and guidance has been published on their use (DfE, 2023).

The DfE says that defibrillators have the potential to save the lives of pupils, staff, and visitors in schools, with research (Brown et al, 2021) showing that accessing these devices within three to five minutes of a cardiac arrest increases the chance of survival by more than 40%.

The campaign to put a device into every school has been spearheaded by the Oliver King Foundation. Oliver King was 12 when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while swimming at school. It happened due to a condition known as sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) which kills 12 young people under the age of 35 every week in the UK.

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