Call for defibrillators in all Edinburgh schools

Hearts captain Danny Wilson with two new defibrillators. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
Hearts captain Danny Wilson with two new defibrillators. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
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THE family of footballer Jamie Skinner want defibrillators installed at schools across Edinburgh – as a lasting legacy to the tragic Hearts supporter.

Sports-mad Jamie was just 13 when he collapsed on the pitch and died of a heart attack making his debut for Tynecastle FC in December.

Now his relatives want the life-saving equipment – and training to use it – at every school in the Capital in a bid to prevent more deaths.

Sister Sonia McCraw, 29, who with the help of family and friends has already raised more than £5,000 to buy defibrillators for sports centres, wants the council to fit them in all schools in the region.

She said: “Incidences of kids’ hearts stopping just seem to be getting younger and younger and we know this equipment can save lives.

“We would really like to see defibrillators in schools across Edinburgh as a tribute to Jamie.

“I think the council should put them in. It’s not a lot of money if it’s going to save lives and would mean Jamie didn’t die in vain.”

Defibrillators, which use electric shocks to restart hearts, cost about £1100 each.

Fundraising efforts including a charity night, sponsored bag-packs and leg waxes, mean enough has now been raised to give the Jamie Skinner Foundation its charitable status. Once this is completed, relatives hope to push on and raise as much money as possible to kit out community sports facilities. Hearts youth academy teams now have their own after the Hearts Youth Development Committee paid more than £3000 to provide new ­equipment.

Although as many as 270 children die after suffering sudden cardiac arrest in British schools each year, there is no requirement for defibrillators to be kept on their premises.

Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome UK (SADS), which estimates that as few as 80 of the 30,000 schools around the country are known to have access to an automated external defibrillator, supported the family’s pleas.

Campaigner Anne Jolly said: “We do believe that all schools should have them in place because the earlier defibrillation is carried out, the better chance there is of a person ­surviving.”

Charity the British Heart Foundation backed public access to defibrillators in areas where there are a high number of cardiac arrests or where it is hard for the ambulance service to drive to quickly.

A spokeswoman said 25 schools were signed up to its emergency life support training programme and encouraged others to follow suit.

Edinburgh Council said the proposal is under consideration. A spokesman added: “The wellbeing of our pupils is of paramount importance. We are continuing to explore the use of defibrillators as part of a variety of first aid and emergency procedures across our establishments.”

The Evening News revealed failings that hampered efforts to save Jamie’s life following his collapse at Saughton Sports Complex including errors of judgement made by workers on duty.