Every year an average of 270 children die at school in the UK from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.
Oliver King died aged just 12 years old when he suffered a cardiac arrest while taking part in a swimming race in 2012. Since then, Mark King, Oliver’s dad, has campaigned for defibrillators to be made more widely available. Last year, 2022, legislation was introduced that all schools would be supplied with a defibrillator.
There is clear evidence showing that defibrillators drastically increase the chance of survival from a cardiac arrest – meaning if a defibrillator had been available then, Oliver could have survived.
Defibrillators have the potential to save the lives of pupils, staff and visitors in schools, with research showing that accessing these devices within 3-5 minutes of a cardiac arrest increases the chance of survival by over 40%.
It’s particularly important that they are available close to sports halls and playing fields that children, young people, and the wider community use daily.
In 2013, The Oliver King Foundation helped to secure a change in government policy where all schools are recommended - but not obliged - to purchase a defibrillator.
The first defibrillators were issued to schools on 20 January 2023 marking the start of a roll out of over 20,000 devices to almost 18,000 state-funded schools in England. The rollout is expected to be complete by the end of the academic year.
The biggest and proudest achievement has been a meeting in March 2022 with Secretary of State for Education Nadim Zahawi. Every school in England should now be receiving a defibrillator. However, we know that this is not the case.
The updated guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/automated-external-defibrillators-aeds-in-schools