PUBLIC schools have been forced to decline the offer of free defibrillators – because the education department does not support their use at school.
NSW is out of step with other states such as Victoria which welcomes the lifesaving defibrillators into schools.
Grieving family and friends of Jamie Paraskevopoulos, 16, who collapsed and died after finishing an exam at Aquinas College, Menai, in 2010, last year raised about $50,000 for 18 defibrillators which they then offered to 16 schools, along with two for Jamie’s football clubs.
Aquinas College had bought its own defibrillator unit but four public schools had to turn them down after the department said it would not support them.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli declined to comment, and said he’d seek the department’s advice on its policy.
Defibrillators, which can be used after basic CPR training, can only shock someone whose heart has stopped.
Julia Zuza helped with the fundraising, during which time she discovered the recent deaths of two other teens in southernSydney from sudden cardiac death.
“With this condition, and that is what happened to Jamie, going into cardiac arrest is the first sign something is wrong,” Ms Zuza said.
“If you have had CPR going, the defibrillator will kick in and shock and possibly bring the person back. Everyone wanted the defibrillators.”
Ms Zuza supports The Daily Telegraph’s campaign for CPR training in all schools.
Sue Buckman, whose 19-year-old son Stephen died playing AFL in 2010, started Defib Your Club, for Life! in Victoria – which has since led to defibrillators in public schools.
A NSW education departments spokeswoman said: “The Department’s current policy does not support the use of defibrillators on school grounds.
“Staff members at schools are trained to do CPR and ambulances respond immediately when contacted by a school.”
The department has no centralised record of how many students had suffered a cardiac arrest at school, despite sudden cardiac death killing up to 500 fit, young Australians, mostly aged under 35, each year.
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