Schools at heart of life saving

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Secondary schools are to be fitted with specialist equipment that could save lives in an emergency.

All 24 secondary schools are set to have Automatic Electronic Defibrillator (AED) units installed before the end of March, next year.

The equipment is used after someone has a cardiac arrest, and North Lanarkshire Council is the first local authority in Scotland to have this type of heart resuscitation equipment installed in all its high schools.

Costing £70,000, the project is also being part-funded by NHS Scotland and Amey, who delivers road maintenance, street lighting and winter services in partnership with the council.

The initiative was announced on Tuesday, May 21, at a training session for staff in Coatbridge, which kicked off the latest stage of North Lanarkshire’s Heartstart Schools Programme which teaches young people basic life saving skills.

Jim Logue, convener of learning and leisure services at NLC, said: “After someone has a cardiac arrest, every minute that passes without defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by 10 per cent.

“With many of our secondary schools open in the evening and at weekends for community and sports activities, having a readily accessible AED unit nearby could play a crucial role in helping to save lives at these locations.”

The council has been implementing a Heartstart Schools programme since 2008, in partnership with The British Heart Foundation (BHF) and NHS Lanarkshire.

Over 100 schools are now affiliated to the scheme with a target of all local schools by March 2015.

The programme has been evaluated by Glasgow University and highlighted as a model of good practice by the Scottish Parliament.

NLC education officer David Craig, said: “All of our secondary schools have nominated Heartstart coordinator.

“It is a natural progression of the programme to install AEDs, and we are very grateful to the partners who are supporting this potentially lifesaving activity.”

The project is supported by NHS Lanarkshire, The British Heart Foundation, Scottish Ambulance Service, St. Andrew’s First Aid and Amey.

Amey business director Stephen Munro, said: “With more than 300,000 sudden cardiac arrests happening in UK community settings each year, we are very pleased to support the council with this initiative which will help equip communities to save lives.”

Amy Gibson, community engagement officer with the Scottish Ambulance Service, added: “We are extremely pleased to help support the council in providing defibrillators in secondary schools.

“Emergency situations are time critical and this equipment will help save lives.”