School gets lifesaving device

Llifesaving device: Pupils at Harris Primary School with the defibrillator
Llifesaving device: Pupils at Harris Primary School with the defibrillator
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A campaign launched by a mum to get a defibrillator fitted at her son’s school has been a success.

Allison Read, of Ingol, Preston, who is married to Paul, says the whole family was devastated when her 33-year-old brother-in-law James Read suddenly died of an undetected heart condition in January 2010.

Allison, 42, who has a nine-year-old son Tyler, feared something similar happening to him, but knew that children under 14 could not have heart screening as the results would not be accurate because their hearts are still developing.

To give herself and other parents peace of mind in case of a sudden life threatening situation, Allison launched a campaign with Tyler’s school Harris Primary in Fulwood to fundraise for a defibrillator for the school.

The campaign was fully supported by parents and the community and around £1,500 was raised for the defibrillator which has now arrived at the school and pupils and staff are being trained how to use it in the event of an emergency.

Allison said: “When James died of Sudden Arrythmic Death Syndrome, the whole family was filled with utter shock and disbelief that someone so fit and healthy could just die like that.

“Undetected heart conditions can be picked up for people between the ages of 14 and 35 through screening, but younger children cannot benefit from screening.

“I felt I just had to do something and try to install defibrillators in schools. This will increase the chances of survival if anything does happen to the children, staff or visitors.

“A cardiac arrest is not a heart attack. With a cardiac arrest, the heart actually stops beating and these machines would only send out a shock if no electrical signal was detected.

“These defibrillators are very easy to use and even talk you through the whole process.

“I know we can never bring James back and there will always be a huge gap in all our lives.

“But I hope I am helping to protect other children and my own son and I know that James would have been behind me 100% if he was still here.

“I want to thank the school and everyone who supported the fundraising.”

Amanda Gregory, headteacher at Harris Primary School, said: “We have had a number of families connected with the school who have had relatives with heart conditions and we are delighted to have this defibrillator.

“We feel that it will be reassuring for parents to know that we have a defibrillator on hand if there is an emergency.”