Automatic Electronic Defibrillators (Secondary Schools)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 6 June 2013.

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Photo of Siobhan McMahon Siobhan McMahon Labour

8. To ask the Scottish Government what plans there are to install automatic electronic defibrillators in secondary schools. (S4O-02222)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has no plans to install automatic electronic defibrillators in secondary schools, because—rightly—that is a decision for local authorities. I am aware that North Lanarkshire Council, in partnership with NHS Lanarkshire and Amey, has recently taken the decision to install defibrillators in all 24 of its secondary schools.

The deployment of publicly accessible defibrillators needs to be achieved as part of a wider community resilience scheme. The community needs the skills, training and awareness in order to deploy such defibrillators effectively.

Photo of Siobhan McMahon Siobhan McMahon Labour

I thank the cabinet secretary for that answer, and I agree that training is required, as was highlighted in last Wednesday’s debate.

However, the cabinet secretary will be aware that emergency situations are time critical and that every minute that passes without defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of survival by 10 per cent. Will the Scottish Government therefore take the lead in encouraging other local authorities across Scotland to install AEDs in all their secondary schools?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I know that the member has a long-standing interest in the subject, and I think that we are all in agreement that access to defibrillators is time critical and of extreme importance, but schools might not always be the best locations for them in communities. International guidelines require there to be a reasonable probability of an automatic electronic defibrillator being used at least once in two years.

There are some spectacularly successful deployments in other places. I pay tribute to Heather Munro, a girl guide in my constituency—indeed, in my own community of Glendaruel—who masterminded the installation of a defibrillator in a disused phone box, which was a tremendous thing for a small community. There are many such opportunities, all of which we should encourage.