accessibility & help

Red Cross welcomes guidance on defibrillators in schools

28 November 2014

The British Red Cross has welcomed new guidance published by the Department for Education encouraging schools to buy an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) as part of their preparation for dealing with first aid emergencies.

Cardiac arrest can affect people of any age without warning, but swift action in the form or early cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation can help save a life. Survival rates as high as 75% have been reported when defibrillation was administered swiftly.1

Modern defibrillators are relatively inexpensive, safe and easy to use and cannot be used in error. The machine will only deliver a shock if it is needed.

Whilst the purchase of this potentially life-saving piece of equipment is important, the British Red Cross has been firm in consultation with the Government that any recommendations should include guidance on a comprehensive approach to first aid education.

Joe Mulligan, head of first aid for the British Red Cross, said: “This is the strongest guidance to date coming from Government that the role of the first person on the scene is critical in the survival of someone facing a cardiac arrest.

"Wider access to defibrillators will undoubtedly help save lives. However for the most benefit we recommend that everyone should learn first aid skills that will build confidence to act in an emergency situation.

"We are pleased that our advice has been followed, and in particular that the ‘chain of survival’ is clearly set out, helping schools to understand where the use of an AED sits in the order of immediate actions that need to be taken.  This clearly shows that the role of the bystander in early recognition of symptoms, calling for help, as well as early intervention in the form of CPR are as important as the use of the AED.

"To complement how it highlights the importance of bystander intervention we also strongly support the recommendation in the guidance that schools use this as an opportunity to consider training across the entire school community, including through PSHE.

"We urge schools to take this guidance to heart, to develop skills and confidence across the whole school community in how to deal with first aid emergencies, and to take this opportunity to build a generation of lifesavers.”

Also reflected in the guidance is our belief that AEDs are designed for public use and should be considered as a community asset, accessible to those in the vicinity of the school as well as within it.


1  Source: Jerry P. Nolan (ed.), Resuscitation Guidelines 2010 (London: Resuscitation Council (UK), 2010), p. 29.  

Notes to editors

The British Red Cross is now the only first aid training provider to include an AED awareness session as standard on its entire schedule of three day first aid at work and two day requalification courses, across all 180 UK training venues.

Read the Department for Education guidance

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

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