Bradwell school makes lifesaving equipment a priority

Jayne Biggs, right, who is campaigning for more defibrillators in the community, her daughter Violet

Jayne Biggs, right, who is campaigning for more defibrillators in the community, her daughter Violet, centre, who suffered a cardiac arrest two years ago, and Ryan Freeman, left, headteacher at Homefield Primary school who have just installed their own defibrillator. - Credit: Archant

A primary school has raised enough money to purchase easy-to-use lifesaving equipment, giving those who could suffer a cardiac arrest the best chance at survival.

Andy Anderson from First Aid at Work Norfolk, demonstrating how to use a defibrillator to staff at H

Andy Anderson from First Aid at Work Norfolk, demonstrating how to use a defibrillator to staff at Homefield Primary School. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Homefield Primary School in Bradwell has teamed up with cardiac charity SAD to take part in their Big Shock Campaign, which aims to put defibrillators in all schools. Jayne Biggs, Vice Chair of Governors at Homefield CofE Primary School was keen to bring a defibrillator into the school after suffering a traumatic experience two years ago.

'My daughter Violet went into cardiac arrest when she was 7' Jayne, 43, said. 'The paramedics got there in 7 minutes and did CPR and used a defibrillator. With CPR alone there's a 5% chance of survival but using a defibrillator too pushes that above 50%. It's a massive jump in chance and we are so blessed.'

After this, Jayne, who lives in Sun Lane, Bradwell with her husband Tony and her other daughter Olivia, 14, became passionate about the installation of defibrillators in schools and she said 'I haven't come across a school that doesn't want one.'

The machine costs around £1200. Homefield raised around £600 of the money through events such as non-uniform days and fetes, but the other half of the funding came from a generous donation by school secretary, 57-year-old Nicola James. Nicola's husband Stewart tragically passed away on Christmas Day 2012, following a cardiac arrest caused by an enlarged heart on Christmas Day 2012. He was 56 at the time. She said 'A defibrillator could have saved him, which is really sad, but he would have loved supporting this cause because he loved children.'

Homefield joins just 27% of schools in the UK to have the equipment on site, a number which Jayne aims to increase by working with SAD and also setting up her own charity in the local area.

'I'm really pleased Homefield have now got one in place', she said. 'But 12 children or people under 35 die each week from young sudden cardiac death and we have no external defibrillators in Gorleston, although a lot of schools are now having them installed.'

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In March, the government announced £1m worth of additional funding to provide defibrillators in public places. Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, said: 'I've written to the Department of Health to seek local access to funds for defibrillators, as I agree with Mrs Biggs that Gorleston needs more of these life-saving pieces of equipment. The British Heart Foundation also offer a match funding scheme, whereby they will match the contributions of local businesses to provide defibrillators for the area, and I encourage all local businesses to support this wherever possible.'

Violet, who is now 9 and a pupil at Homefield, has since been diagnosed with long QT syndrome, a heart condition that can affect young people. She is doing well but Jayne is grateful that a defibrillator was available or the outcome could have been much more tragic. Ryan Freeman, Homefield headteacher said: 'Not only was a defibrillator vital to Violet, but it is vital to the school. For staff to have that resource is invaluable.'

For more information on sudden cardiac death or community defibrillators, contact SADS UK on 01277 811215 or info@sadsuk.org or visit the website at www.sadsuk.org