The roll-out of life saving defibrillators to every primary school in Liverpool is underway.
The £100,000 project is believed to be the first scheme of its type in the country and will see the life saving devices fitted in 122 schools over the next academic year, with training also provided to staff.
It follows the death of Oliver King, a pupil at King David High School in Childwall, in March 2011. He died during a swimming lesson from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS). His family believe that if a defibrillator had been available, the 12 year old’s heart could have been restarted.
It is estimated that 270 children die of a sudden cardiac arrest while at school in the UK every year, and is the same medical condition that struck former Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba last season, forcing his retirement from the game.
The first debrillators were fitted at Pinehurst Primary School in Anfield. A special ceremony was held to mark the occasion attended by Oliver’s parents, city leaders, Hollyoaks and Emmerdale actor James Sutton and representatives from Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs . It will also see 122 balloons released to highlight the number of schools benefiting.
The Oliver King Foundation, launched in his memory, aims to get the Government to install defibrillators in all public buildings by 2017. It is also calling for ECG scans to be given to all 14 – 35 year olds so that they can be screened for the potentially fatal condition.
The campaign has already won the backing of Mayor Joe Anderson, comedian Stephen Fry, actress Dame Helen Mirren, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
Oliver’s dad Mark (pictured above with boxer Natasha Jonas and school pupils) said: “This is a momentous moment for the Oliver King Foundation and marks the start of a project that will save lives.
“We must do all we can to raise awareness of SADS and prevent as many deaths as we can. There are no warning signs and it could happen to anyone’s child.
“We need to have defibrillators in all public buildings to make sure that Oliver’s death was not in vain.”
Mayor Anderson said: “I am really pleased that our primary schools are leading the way by installing defibrillators.
“The Oliver King Foundation is doing great work highlighting awareness of this issue, and I am 100 percent behind them.”
The purchase of the defibrillators follows a proposal by Liverpool Primary Headteachers Association which was agreed by the Schools Forum, which comprises headteachers and education officials.
Councillor Jake Morrison, Patron of The Oliver King Foundation, said: “Our schools are at the heart of our communities, and this equipment will be of benefit to us all.
“If this scheme saves one child’s live, it will have been worth all the effort.”
Stephanie Tasker, Head of Pinehurst Primary School, said: “We are delighted to be the first school to benefit from this scheme.
“It is really important we raise the profile of this important issue and do all we can to prevent needless deaths.””
An e-petition calling on Government to debate the dangers of SAD in the House of Commons has received thousands of signatures, but many more are needed. It can be found by visiting epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/29399
For more information about the Oliver King Foundation, visit www.theoliverkingfoundation.co.uk