AS more funds roll in for our Jack's Appeal to put defibrillators in every Gwent secondary school, one campaigner tells CAIO IWAN why Jack Thomas' death should spark a change in the law.
A NEWPORT nurse is pushing for a legislation to make heart defibrillators available in every public place in Wales – and wants to call it Jack’s Law.
Phil Hill, who has had a keen interest in public access to defibrillators for 20 years, wants to introduce new Automated External Defibrillator (AED) legislation for Wales in memory of tragic Oakdale teen Jack Thomas who died suddenly from an underlying heart problem two years ago.
Aneurin Bevan Health Board nurse Mr Hill, 41, will be giving a presentation at the Senedd on April 29, in the company of Jack’s mother, June Thomas. The petition was to request Welsh legislation making AED availability in public places a legal requirement, just like fire extinguishers.
The Argus has teamed up with Jack’s parents to introduce a heart defibrillator, which cost around £1,000 each, into every secondary school in Gwent and the Rhymney Valley. Three schools are to be presented with a defibrillator each in the next few weeks as the appeal reaches the £4,500 mark.
Father-of-two Mr Hill, who is also completing a Masters dissertation on the subject at Cardiff University, says there is a lot of work to do as often there may be an AED nearby and yet someone may not be aware it is available.
“How tragic would it be if someone died from a reversible cause in the first few minutes and yet there was a nearby AED locked away or not well signposted?” he said.
Despite Mr Hill’s best efforts, the petition only managed to gain around 90 signatures. But later on last year, the Welsh Government’s petitions committee showed an interest in the petition again, eventually asking Mr Hill for a formal response in relation to feedback they had received from service providers in Wales on their public access AED provision.
He said there was “a sudden explosion of interest” after the successful resuscitation of footballer Fabrice Muamba on the pitch, which happened a day after Jack’s funeral in March 2012.
Mr Hill then came across Jack’s Appeal and was inspired to push on with his efforts. He now hopes, if the mandatory public defibrillator legislation comes to pass in Wales, it will be known as Jack’s Law in memory of the 15-year-old.
“I was honoured and slightly choked up when June said she would be willing to come with us,” he said. “If we can fulfil this goal I will be very proud and it would definitely be a life achievement.”
Mrs Thomas said she and her husband, Grant, were “blown away” by the thought of a law being named after their son.
“Grant said the other day; we only had Jack for 15 years, but with this people all over Wales would know who he was,” she added. “I’m meeting all these amazing people – to think someone who never knew Jack would do this. We are so proud.”
Tickets for the The King and Queen of Hearts Summer Ball (in memory of Jack’s Appeal) are £45 each, and includes a sparkling drinks reception, a three-course dinner and entertainment. It will be held at the Hilton Newport Hotel on Chepstow Road, Langstone, NP18 2LX, on June 7, 2014. People are being encouraged to arrive at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. To book tickets to the Summer Ball contact Welsh Hearts Fundraising Office on 02920 786521 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a simple donation to Jack’s Appeal, or donate the proceeds of a fundraising event, send cheques made payable to Welsh Hearts charity, either to its headquarters at Temple Court, 13a Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HA, or to Newsdesk, South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 3QN. Please write ‘Jack Thomas defibs appeal’ on the back of the envelope.