Young people from Halton are calling for defibrillators to be available in every school — and now they’ve won the support of Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK.
The members met at Nottingham University earlier this month for their annual conference.
Halton’s MYP Ewan Jago put forward the motion after becoming interested in the issue following a discussion with local children’s author Sarah Oliver, who is an advocate of AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) in schools.
Earlier this year Halton Youth Cabinet wrote to all schools in the borough to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of having easy access to an AED.
Around 270 children die of sudden cardiac arrest at school every year. Using an AED in the first three to five minutes after cardiac arrest sees survival rates leap from 6 per cent to 74 per cent.
While the government currently advises schools that it is good practice to have an AED, it’s not compulsory for them to have one on site.
Halton Youth Cabinet’s Holly Caldwell proposed the motion at the annual conference; MYPs from across the country voted overwhelmingly in support of the motion by 153 votes to 8.
Ewan Jago, 15, Member of Youth Parliament for Halton and student at Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy, said: “AEDs drastically increase the chances of survival after cardiac arrest. It is absolutely shocking to think that this essential life-saving equipment isn’t available in all schools when it can literally be the difference between life and death.
“Having the UK Youth Parliament adopt this motion as policy ensures that more people are aware of this vital issue and that more can be done to protect our young people.”
Holly Caldwell, 15, Halton Youth Cabinet Member and student at St Peter and Paul Catholic College said: “It was an amazing experience to join young people from across the UK at the annual conference and to help put forward a voice for the young people of Halton. I was really excited to introduce the AED topic and so pleased that this important issue now has a national platform with the UK Youth Parliament.”
The UKYP Annual Conference saw UK Youth Parliament adopt a new manifesto with new policies around putting an end to knife crime, tackling homelessness, welcoming refugees, supporting youth services, mental health in school, tackling hate crime and the importance of ensuring sexual orientation and gender identity is taught in schools.
The Halton Youth Cabinet is organised by drug and alcohol charity Addaction on behalf of Halton’s Children’s Trust and Halton Council, as part of an ongoing commitment to improve opportunities for all children and young people living in the borough.
Defibrillation is a treatment for life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmias, specifically ventricular fibrillation and non-perfusing ventricular tachycardia. A defibrillator delivers a dose of electric current to the heart. Although not fully understood, this would depolarize a large amount of the heart muscle, ending the dysrhythmia.