JUST six of Gwent’s 31 secondary schools have defibrillators on site, according to an Argus survey made as part of our campaign to get a machine into all of Gwent’s high schools.
Now the head teacher of a school which got its heart machine in November 2012 is urging other schools to get behind the campaign.
Our appeal, launched this week, is called “Jack’s Appeal” after Oakdale 15-year-old Jack Thomas, who died suddenly in February 2012.
Jack’s funeral took place a day before footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed in a game and was saved by emergency cardiology care. Jack’s mother June said immediate medical attention was a major factor in Muamba surviving, and she would like to see it copied in secondary schools in South East Wales.
West Monmouth School, Pontypool, has a defibrillator, bought for £800 and paid for with the help of the British Heart Foundation, and nine staff trained to use it.
And head teacher Clive Jackson said: “We pride ourselves, in partnership with the parents and health professionals, in supporting the medical needs of our pupils, as far as we are able. We have a large number of sports teams and, with that, comes risks.
“We feel that by having the defibrillator on site we are in a position to provide immediate help to our pupils and staff, until professional medical support arrives,” he said. “We’ve informed our local community that we have one and it can be for their use too.
“I’d encourage all schools to think about becoming involved.”
The Argus contacted all secondary schools in Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Newport, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly, excluding the Rhymney Valley, to ask whether they had a defibrillator.
No Blaenau Gwent schools have one, but Tredegar Comprehensive’s nearby leisure centre does. In the former Islwyn area, Jack’s school Oakdale Comprehensive and Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni have one, while Bedwas, Pontllanfraith and Risca are near leisure centres with defibrillators.
In Monmouthshire, Caldicot, Chepstow, King Henry VIII and Monmouth share sites with leisure centres with defibrillators, but don’t have their own.
In Newport, Duffryn High School, Llanwern and St Julian’s Comprehensive have one.
Newport County AFC installed the defibrillator at Llanwern as it hosts their youth academy, a purchase made courtesy of another charity which supports our campaign, Welsh Hearts.
Caerleon, Newport High School and St Joseph’s do not have one, although Newport High shares a site with a leisure centre. Bassaleg and Lliswerry declined to comment.
In Torfaen, only West Monmouth School has a defibrillator. Fairwater is near a leisure centre which has one, but Llantarnam’s nearby leisure centre doesn’t.
EACH defibrillator machine costs around £1,000, which means we need to raise at least £23,000 to fulfill our campaign's aim to get a heart defribrillator installed in every secondary school in Gwent.
This ambitious campaign to get a piece of vital life-saving equipment into every high school in Gwent has seen us team up with the parents of Jack Thomas, who died in 2012 aged just 15, and the charity Welsh Hearts.
Reaching our goal will not be easy but we also know how generous our readers have proved to be time and again, and we are sure that will be the case again with this appeal.
Jack’s mum June says defribrillators should be everywhere and we think every secondary school is a good start, so please help.
To donate, make cheques payable to Welsh Hearts and send them to Temple Court, 13a Cathedral Road, Cardiff CF11 9HA, or directly to Newsdesk, South Wales Argus offices, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 3QN.
Please write ‘Jack Thomas defibs appeal’ on the back of your envelope - that way we’ll know you want to donate directly to our appeal.