The MP for Lewes has called for a law which would make it mandatory for schools to have defibrillators on the premises to save people who experience cardiac arrest.
The BBC reports that Lewes MP Maria Caulfield said survival rates were “dismal” outside hospital as she proposed the bill in Parliament.
110,000 people have signed a petition for defibrillators in all schools after Liverpool schoolboy Oliver King died from a heart attack in 2011.
During a parliamentary session, MPs were told that 30,000 heart attacks occur outside hospital every year, but less than one in ten victims survive.
Oliver King, 12, suffered a fatal heart attack during a school swimming lesson at the city’s King David High School. Commenting on his case, Caulfield said:
“He died when no defibrillator was available and when paramedics took 24 minutes to get to the scene.”
Campaigners say that every year an average of 270 children die at school from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome – the condition that led to Oliver’s death.
The Oliver King Foundation helped secure a change in government policy three years ago through which all schools are recommended – but not required – to purchase a defibrillator.
There is a “postcode lottery” in current provision, according to Ms Caulfield, and she demanded every community be given the kit and training in how to use it.
Her proposed law change, the Defibrillators (Availability) Bill, would require all schools, sports centres and other public facilities to have a defibrillator and train staff to use it.
After the motion was passed in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr King, Oliver’s father, said he was “over the moon,” commenting:
“It’s mixed emotions because nothing that happens will bring my Olly back but we can stop it happening to other families.
It’s taken five years’ hard work… but the real work starts today.”
The British Heart Foundation called on all secondary schools to create “a nation of lifesavers by applying for our free CPR training and defibrillator awareness package” for pupils and staff. Their spokeswoman Catherine Kelly added:
“This will give young people the confidence to step in and try to save a life when they are faced with the ultimate medical emergency of a cardiac arrest.”
The bill is set to be debated in the Commons on 27 January next year, but it has little chance of proceeding without government support.