Cardiac charity's schools crusade
THE MUM of an eight-year-old child who tragically died while at school has welcomed the introduction of new on-site life-saving equipment.
Allison Spalding, 37, of Ranscombe Farm, Cuxton, has been campaigning for defibrillators to be installed in schools since her son Charlie Morettes suffered a fatal heart attack in 2007.
Defibrillators, designed to restart the heart when a person goes into cardiac arrest, are common at rail stations and airports, but Cuxton Community Junior School is only the third school in Kent to introduce the £1,500 kit.
Hempstead Junior School, Gillingham and Sutton at Hone Junior School, near Dartford, where Charlie died, are the others.
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Mum-of-three Allison, whose eight-year-old daughter Holly goes to the school in Cuxton, believes it should be mandatory for the life-saving equipment to be installed in all schools across the country.
She said: "Every minute counts when a child goes into cardiac arrest, and it is especially important for a semi-rural area like Cuxton, which is about ten to 15 minutes from the nearest hospital.
"They're not too expensive – the same price as a computer, and I think every school should have them.
"If a defibrillator was on site at school, my son would have had a better chance of surviving."
Tracey Terry, head teacher at Cuxton Community Junior School, admits she was not convinced by the equipment at first, but believes it will provide "reassurance" for children and parents.
She said: "When I first heard about it, I must admit I was a little apprehensive, but it is really simple to use and can save a life."
The installation comes after cardiac charity Sads UK launched "The big shock", a national campaign calling for legislation to be passed to make defibrillators mandatory in all UK schools.
Anne Jolly, founder of Sads UK says the latest statistics suggest 270 sudden cardiac arrests occur in UK schools every year, but just 80 out of more than 30,000 schools in the UK are known to have access to an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Clive Goddard, responder operations manager at South East Coast Ambulance Service, says the piece of kit is like a "computer" and boosts cardiac arrest victims' survival chances.
He added: "For every one minute of delay, survivability decreases by 10 per cent."