Thousands of lives could be saved every year if Britain follows the lead of other countries and requires the installation of defibrillators in busy public places.
That's the message that Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham will give to Parliament as he leads a debate on heart safety tomorrow.
In Britain, thousands of people every year suffer sudden cardiac arrest in public places. At present, the survival rate is 2-12% - compared to 49% in other places.
Experts believes that many more lives can be saved with better education in emergency first aid and wider availability of defibrillators. It is in the first few seconds after collapse that lives can saved - before paramedics are able to get to the scene.
Andy Burnham believes the time has come for Parliament to set a minimum mandatory requirement on the location of defibrillators in public places such as train stations, shopping centres and schools. Many buildings already have defibrillators but people do not know at present where they can expect to find one. Andy Burnham will also call for an open public register of defibrillators so people can quickly locate the nearest using modern technology.
A new law on defibrillators should be backed by better education on how to use them. Andy Burnham will urge the Government to consider including emergency first aid and CPR on the national curriculum, as well as introducing a heart screening programme for young people.
Monday's debate has come about after an e-petition, initiated by the Oliver King Foundation last year, attracted over 100,000 signatures. Oliver King passed away two years ago after suffering a cardiac arrest during a school swimming lesson, aged 12.
Twelve young people die every week from sudden cardiac arrest. Research shows that use of a defibrillator within five minutes of collapse provides the best possible chance of survival, with chances decreasing by 14% every minute that passes without defibrillation.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“Too many lives are being lost that could be saved if only communities were better equipped to provide an emergency response.
“Just as we once required fire extinguishers to be on hand, it's time for Parliament to act and set a minimum requirement on the location of defibrillators. People need to know where they can find one if we are going to save more lives.
"Fabrice Muamba's remarkable story shows us all what can be achieved if the right support is immediately on hand. Sadly, that wasn't available to young Oliver King but, in his memory and others, we should act to make sure it is available to others.”
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