IT’S a life-saving tool that stopped a 16-year-old Hampshire schoolboy dying from a heart attack.
But only a handful of Hampshire schools are thought to have the equipment on site that saved the life of teenager Sam Mangoro.
Today the Daily Echo launches a campaign to have defibrillators installed in every school across the county.
And our campaign already has the backing of MPs and senior teachers who say it’s vital – and it should be compulsory.
The calls come after we exclusively reported yesterday how Mountbatten pupil Sam Mangoro’s life was saved thanks to quick-thinking staff using the school defibrillator to restart his heart after he collapsed from a heart attack.
Among them was PE teacher Emma Denham, who was being interviewed for a job as head of department at the Whitenap Lane school, when the drama unfolded.
Headteacher Heather McIlroy, who is backing our campaign, said: “We need defibrillators available with trained staff in all our schools, leisure centres, libraries, drop-in centres and other public buildings.
“It’s a very happy ending to the story but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to get a really important message into the public forum.”
She added: “These only cost £800 which is a small price to pay to save a life.”
Sam is currently in hospital having been woken from a medically induced coma.
Mountbatten has ordered two more defibrillators to cover the whole campus including the field, while it will train more staff to use them on top of the 20 already able to do so.
Mrs McIlroy added: “We have some elderly people accessing the school for community purposes so we wanted provision should anything happen to one of them. I have also received a lot of emails from staff asking to be trained.”
There is currently no law enforcing schools to have the equipment on site but Mrs McIlroy said she hoped to change that and is already contacting MPs.
Now Mountbatten staff are determined to get the message out to other schools through regular meetings and via social media.
Deputy head Joanna Scott said: “There are a lot of influential headteachers on Twitter who have lots of followers so we were asking them to retweet this story.”
The school ordered the defibrillator after a meeting between Mrs McIlroy and the chair of governors, Dr Mary Bainbridge, a retired GP, who recommended the device on the advice of her son-in-law, also a doctor.
Southampton City Council confirmed it does not have a policy on defibrillators in schools and it is up to a school itself to decide whether to carry the equipment.
Hampshire County Council was unavailable for comment when asked how many of its schools have defibrillators.
Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes said: “There are a lot of schools around the country that do not have this technology and clearly it was having this defibrillator that saved this boy’s life.
“They are reasonably priced and clearly well worth it in Mountbatten’s case and I think we have to look at good ways of finding this funding and getting it into as many schools as possible.”
PE teacher leapt into action
IT was a job interview you dream about – in your worst nightmares.
But it didn’t stop PE teacher Emma Denham leaping into action to help save Sam Mangoro’s life while taking a class at Mountbatten School.
Describing how the frightening ordeal unfolded, she said: “It was like something you would dream about the night before. I had them doing basketball and they were all lined up in front of me after warming up and then Sam fell over. I thought it was strange because we had not really started but as soon as I got over to him I knew straight away it was serious.
“I could not rouse him so I put him in the recovery position and that’s when the teachers who were observing me came over. The children were brilliant and walked out very calmly.
“One of the teachers had a lot of first aid training and came to help me and we noticed his breathing was shallow. So I rolled him back over and that’s when we got the defibrillator.
“After we put the pads on him it told us to shock him straight away. We shocked him three times and I was giving him a heart massage.
“When the paramedics arrived they told me to keep massaging his heart and then they shocked him a fourth time and at that point they found a weak heartbeat. Hearing that was an amazing feeling.
“I was told to come back the next day and prepare a presentation and it was a strange feeling to come back and teach in that room after what happened the day before.”
Now Emma, of Locks Heath, near Fareham, is backing the Daily Echo’s campaign to get defibrillators in every school in Hampshire.
She said: “What surprised me was I have only recently had defibrillator training a few months ago and I initially thought “What’s the point?” as I didn’t think I’d ever need it. But now it makes perfect sense and was a valuable experience.
“I think schools should have them because they are so important and don’t cost that much. You cannot put a price on a child’s life.
“I think every child and teacher should have a degree of first aid training to understand what to do in this sort of situation, even if it’s just putting someone in the recovery position.”
Even though she did not get the job despite her heroics, Emma, who works at Ditcham Park School in Petersfield, added she had no hard feelings and was glad to play her part.
“All the candidates were very good and I have no hard feelings about not getting the job. It was a valuable experience for me.”
Defibrillators 'tell the user what to do'
THEY may look complicated and very hi-tech, but defibrillators are remarkably straightforward to use, according to staff at Mountbatten.
Welfare assistant Janet Barratt, who was on the scene when Sam collapsed and is trained to use the Defibtech model, said the machine is so sophisticated it guides the user through the process.
She said: “Once you attach the patches to a person’s chest, the defibrillator tells you what to do. It’s an amazing piece of equipment. It can tell you whether someone needs a shock by measuring their pulse, so you can’t go wrong.
“I think there is some fear out there over using these machines, but they tell you what to do and whether they are needed, so there’s no need to be frightened to use it.”
Assistant head teacher Mark Chance added: “It is like a Sergeant Major barking orders at you in an emergency situation.”
Has your life been saved by a defibrillator? Contact Joseph Curtis on 023 8042 4520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org