School defibs plan is hailed as huge progress for Capital

Dobbies community champion Jayne Kirkpatrick celebrates with Jamie Skinner's cousin Karen Greechan after a book signing event raised �500 for the Jamie Skinner Foundation. Picture: Greg Macvean
Dobbies community champion Jayne Kirkpatrick celebrates with Jamie Skinner's cousin Karen Greechan after a book signing event raised �500 for the Jamie Skinner Foundation. Picture: Greg Macvean
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PLANS to roll out life-saving defibrillators in high schools across the Capital has been hailed as “leaps and bounds” ahead of other local authorities.

The Evening News revealed yesterday that city chiefs will provide heart-start machines for all 23 high schools in Edinburgh, securing a safer future for pupils.

The move will ensure more lives are saved in Edinburgh, said Bryan Finlay, community defibrillation officer at the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Mr Finlay said: “I think there has been a lot of positive pressure on schools on the importance of having them.

“For Edinburgh City 
Council to install them as a matter of policy is leaps and bounds ahead of many councils.

“Edinburgh is likely to be one of the first places in Scotland to have them all in place and for me that is very exciting.”

Wider provision is the first step towards quelling concerns about working with the vital devices, which can increase the chance of survival after a cardiac arrests by 75 per cent if used in the first five minutes.

Mr Finlay said: “The campaign has done such a great job in keeping the issue in the forefront of people’s minds.

“We want defibrillators to be as commonplace as fire extinguishers, and for people to not be afraid and have a go at using them, even if they don’t know how to.

“We are going to see more lives saved in Edinburgh, that is for sure.”

The installation of the new shockboxes will provide peace of mind for both parents and staff, as well as helping to educate young people on how to use them, said Neil Russell, active schools co-ordinator at the Royal High School cluster.

He said: “I am very excited about this. First of all, it gives us the opportunity to raise awareness and organise training for both staff and students at the school.

“We also have a great number of adults and community groups using our facilities seven days a week and I think having one on site will help give everyone peace of mind.”

And Simon Gillespie, chief executive for the British Heart Foundation, praised the work of the Jamie Skinner Foundation, which has campaigned tirelessly to improve provision since 13-year-old Jamie suffered a fatal cardiac arrest in December 2013.

He said: “When someone has a cardiac arrest their chances of survival decrease with every passing minute. We applaud the family and friends of Jamie Skinner for their determination to strengthen the chain of survival.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com