St John responds: Government ensures every state school in England has a lifesaving defibrillator

25 July 2023: St John Ambulance responds to Government announcement confirming all state-funded schools in England will now have life-saving defibrillators installed, hoping to drastically increase cardiac arrest survival rates for children and communities across England. 

Each year, more than 30,000 cardiac arrests take place outside of a hospital setting in the UK. But less than one in ten people survive, often because those around them don’t have access to a defibrillator or the skills or confidence to perform CPR. 

Following the Government’s £19 million roll out, over 20,000 defibrillators have successfully been delivered to almost 18,000 schools since January. Including all eligible primary, special and alternative provision schools who did not already have a lifesaving device. 

George Woods, Chief Business Officer for Education and Enterprise at St John Ambulance, said: “It’s fantastic news that our eligible state schools will have this lifesaving technology at their fingertips should it be needed.  

“Defibrillators are an incredibly important piece of equipment and can often dramatically increase the chances of someone surviving a cardiac arrest.  

“We are delighted that pupils, staff and visitors to the school can benefit from these devices in the event of a medical emergency until further help arrives.  

“At St John Ambulance, we know that community first aid saves lives, and this is the perfect example of a whole community coming together to make it a safer place to be.”  

The Government is also supporting schools in making defibrillators available to the community, with 1,200 external heated defibrillator cabinets being provided to primary and special schools by the end of 2023 in areas of deprivation. 

The defibrillator rollout will build on existing requirements for schools to teach first aid as part of the curriculum, which St John successfully campaigned for back in 2020, with secondary school pupils being taught life-saving methods such as CPR and the purpose of defibrillators. This rollout hopes to help increase cardiac arrest survival rates in schools and local communities, delivering wider access to these devices. 

Alongside supporting this announcement, St John Ambulance, Resuscitation Council UK and British Heart Foundation recently delivered joint recommendations for public access defibrillators to help increase survival rates in communities. These include: 

  • Public-access defibrillators should be located in high-risk areas first  
  • Defibrillator guardians should register their device with The Circuit: the national defibrillator network which allows all ambulance services to see the data  
  • Government and local authorities should invest in community first aid education  
  • Every secondary school should offer, where possible, at least one public-access defibrillator Insurance cover should be provided for unlocked defibrillator cabinets 

Find out more about how St John Ambulance works in communities to help increase cardiac survivals rates here.