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Personal Health Q3 2021

Does your school have access to an AED?

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Trudie Lobban MBE

Founder and CEO, Arrhythmia Alliance

All schools, universities and educational establishments must have access to an automated external defibrillator (AED). They are vital tools that can mean the difference between life and death.

The on-field collapse of Christian Erikson during a EURO 2020 match showed why defibrillators are so important; without prompt use of a defibrillator, he would not be alive today. Erikson collapsed because he had a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). A SCA is not a heart attack — it is when the heart stops because of a dangerous arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm disorder) whereas a heart attack is when blockages in the heart restrict blood flow. With a SCA, the only way to restart the heart is to “shock” it back into a healthy rhythm with a defibrillator.

CPR is not enough

While CPR is important, it is not enough. CPR alone increases survival by 9% but CPR plus an AED increases survival from SCA by more than 50%. Additionally, AEDs require no training — you just follow the verbal instructions from the machine. An AED will only deliver a shock if one is needed; it will not shock someone whose heart is in a healthy rhythm therefore, you cannot harm anyone by using it. However, you can potentially save a life.

Defibrillators in schools must be accessible to all — they will not save lives if they are locked away in a cupboard.

We believe AEDs should be as commonplace as smoke alarms — at present — there is no legal requirement for them. Many governments are “looking to change” regulations so that all schools will have access to an AED, but action is needed now. We should not have to wait for anyone else to die because they did not have access to an AED.

Getting defibrillators into schools

To kick start the Autumn term, Arrythmia Alliance is relaunching its Defibs in Schools campaign. We are calling for all schools, universities and educational establishments to have access to an AED. We want these AEDs to be available to the whole community 24/7. SCAs do not just occur during school hours; they can occur at any time, to anyone of any age. Defibrillators in schools must be accessible to all — they will not save lives if they are locked away in a cupboard.

SCAs can occur to anyone, anywhere, at any time and of any age. Everyone should know what to do if one occurs. Do not let the ones you love be the ones you lose.

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