IT has been hailed as a huge step forward in ensuring life saving equipment is available to every school in Hampshire.
Government education bosses have revealed that they are making it cheaper for schools to buy defibrillators that should be available as early as the autumn term.
The announcement is a boost for the Daily Echo’s campaign to get the vital equipment in every Hampshire school, launched after 16-year-old Mountbatten School pupil Sam Mangoro suffered a heart attack during a PE lesson earlier this year.
His life was saved by quick-thinking staff who used the device four times on the teenager to re-start his heart, just months after it was purchased by the Romsey school.
Defibrillators currently cost between £800 and £1,000, and the Government is looking for a supplier to offer them to schools at a reduced price.
Schools Minister Lord Nash said: “There is nothing more important than keeping children safe at school. “By securing defibrillators at a reduced price, schools will find it much easier to install these potentially life-saving devices. We hope schools right across the country will take advantage of this.”
Sam, who made a full recovery at Southampton General Hospital, said he was delighted by the Government’s announcement.
He said: “I’m really pleased and hopefully it will lead to defibrillators being compulsory for schools in the future. But this is a great starting point and I want to congratulate the Daily Echo on its campaign and all the work it has done on this.”
His mum Lynda added: “It’s brilliant news. I’m sure some schools are not aware of these health issues, but now they should sit up and take notice. I hope this will have a big effect and we will see a huge rise in defibrillators in schools.”
The news has also been welcomed by Hampshire County Council leader Roy Perry.
He said: “It was a great blessing that Mountbatten School had a defibrillator when Sam Mangoro had a heart attack.
“We certainly welcome the Government announcement and like the Schools Minister we would urge schools, where they consider it appropriate, to take advantage of this offer.
“But we have to emphasise it is very much a matter for the individual school.”
Meanwhile Sue Killen, chief executive of St John Ambulance, which runs defibrillator training classes, urged schools to go further and teach skills like CPR.
She said: “While this is a welcome step in the right direction, installing the machine is only part of the solution. The best schools make sure that life-saving skills are known by pupils, teachers and other staff alike, so that everyone knows what to do when faced with a life-or-death situation.”