Teachers and pupils welcome life-saving heart device

An astonishing 3,000 people, including hundreds of children, are getting enhanced protection from sudden cardiac arrest after Lanes Group donated a heart defibrillator to a Berkshire school.

The drainage and asset maintenance specialist has donated the life-saving device to St Mary’s CE Primary School in Slough, Berkshire, which is located next to a Sure Start Children’s Centre.

An estimated 12 people aged under the age of 35 die in the UK from sudden cardiac arrest every week, and on average five of those happen in schools.

Headteacher Rachel Cross said: “Around 3,000 children and adults visit the school and children’s centre every day. Having the defibrillator on site gives all those people greatly enhanced protection from sudden cardiac arrest.”

Teacher Zoe Brotherston is particularly relieved that Lanes Group has made the donation via its utilities division, which is based in Slough, and is Thames Water’s wastewater network maintenance partner.

Her 18-year-old cousin, James, from Welwyn Garden City, in Hertfordshire, died last year from sudden cardiac arrest.

She said: “It was a devastating time for my family. My experience has made all the staff at the school very keen to have a defibrillator on the premises. Lanes Group’s donation means we now have it sooner than we had hoped.

“Heart problems that cause sudden cardiac arrest are often hidden. It can affect children and adults who can otherwise appear very fit and healthy, which is why having defibrillators available where lots of people gather is so vital.”

Lanes Group is working with national charity Hand on Heart to donate defibrillators and provide training, together worth £3,000, to schools located close to its depots and service hubs across the UK.

Five members of staff will be trained how to use the device, and 30 pupils will receive basic life support and awareness training. The device could also be used to help someone living near the school.

The defibrillator was handed over by Andrew MacCuish, Head of Health, Safety, Quality and Environment for Lanes Utilities, and his colleague Hannah Clark, Business and Quality Co-ordinator.

Andrew said: “Health and safety excellence, and ensuring the well being of our staff and customers, is central to our work with Thames Water. So, donating a heart defibrillator to St Mary’s is a natural extension of how we do business.

“We hope that the defibrillator is never needed. However, we’re glad to know that if it is, the patient, young or old, will have the benefit of the latest technology to help save their lives.”

Hand on Heart, based in Salford, Manchester, says national medical records show more than 600 young people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. Of those, 270 happen in schools.

Zoe Brotherston’s family has also set up a charity called DiPPs (Defibrillators in Public Places). It is raising money for the machines to be made available in schools and sports centres in and around Welwyn Garden City.

Just the day before Lanes delivered the defibrillator, a member of staff at St Mary’s suffered an angina attack at the school, and was taken by ambulance to hospital to be admitted for emergency treatment.

Rachel Cross said: “The incident brought home just how important it is to take all steps we can to be ready to save a life. Thanks to Lanes, having this defibrillator is a big step forward in doing just that.”



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