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School defibrillators petition reaches Downing Street

A petition bearing 8,000 names urging the government to ensure defibrillators are kept in all English schools has been submitted at Downing Street this summer.

It follows the death in December 2010 of 16-year-old Charlotte Prentice-Underwood, from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) caused by an undiagnosed heart condition. Now Charlotte's parents are spearheading the defibrillators for schools campaign.

The couple have joined forces with the charity SADS UK which says hundreds of cardiac arrests happen in British schools every year. Charlotte's father insists a defibrillator could have saved his daughter's life.

Mr Underwood, who is from Redditch in the Midlands, explains: "At the moment there is no law for any school or other public place to have a defibrillator installed.

"We know it costs money to have this equipment in schools, but there can be no monetary value places on the life of a child. Up to 19 young adults every week have cardiac arrests. Even in the Houses of Parliament, 16 have been installed, so they must think it's a good idea!"

The petition has the support of local MP Karen Lumley, as well as the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Mr Underwood has helped to raise money so defibrillators can be given to schools across the West Midlands in Charlotte's memory.

How Defibrillators Save Lives

Across the UK as a whole, some 60,000 cardiac arrests occur outside hospitals each year.

When someone has a cardiac arrest that has them fighting for their life, few things are more important than taking prompt action. For every minute that passes in which a cardiac arrest patient goes without defibrillation, survival chances fall by around 14 per cent. Evidence from the US shows that immediate CPR combined with early defibrillation and effective post-resuscitation care can increase the chance of survival after cardiac arrest to 50 per cent.

A defibrillator (also known as an AED or Automated External Defibrillator) works by giving the heart of a cardiac arrest patient an electric shock to stop the irregular heartbeat and restore the heart's normal rhythm.

"Defibs", as they are often referred to, should be placed in areas where there is increased potential for cardiac arrests or where an ambulance crew may struggle to arrive quickly. This may include rural areas, places where there is a lot of traffic congestion, places which attract large crowds, or regions where road networks are poor.

Defibrillators are extremely easy to use, and while they may not all look the same; the way they function is broadly similar. Training isn't necessary, but if you invest in a defibrillator, confidence to use it is crucial. At St John Supplies we offer a free place on the St John Ambulance CPR and automated external defibrillation training course when you buy a defibrillator from us.

First Aid Supplies from St John Ambulance

At St John Supplies, we have all your first aid and health and safety needs covered, from heavyweight items like stretchers to first aid kits, consumables, hi vis clothing and cpr manikins. Use our free online first aid kits calculator to make sure you have everything your organisation needs - and remember to check regularly that your kit doesn't contain any items that have passed their expiry date.

We also stock a wide range of defibrillators at competitive prices. In fact, our price promise means that if you find the same item at a better price elsewhere, we'll match it.

View our range of defibrillators and order online or speak to our customer service advisers by calling 0844 770 4808.


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