CAMPAIGNERS calling for a new law to make heart defibrillators available in every public place in Wales brought their case to the Senedd today.
Phil Hill appealed to AMs for Wales to lead the way on legislation for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in memory of Oakdale teen Jack Thomas who died suddenly two years ago, aged 15.
He was supported at the Assembly's petitions committee on Tuesday morning by Jack’s mother June Thomas.
“It doesn’t make sense – we have a law for a fire extinguisher but we don’t for a defibrillator,” she told the Argus, which has backed an appeal to get a defibrillator in every secondary school in Gwent and the Rhymney Valley.
Mr Hill, a Newport nurse who has submitted a petition to the Assembly calling for the new law, told AMs that for every minute a defibrillator is delayed, a victim’s chance of survival falls by ten per cent, even if CPR is used.
“It would be an absolute tragedy if somebody died near a building where there was an AED available and it was locked away, or only a select few knew it was there and were allowed to use it,” he said.
Mr Hill said there was international evidence showing that with public awareness campaigns reinforced with legislation “survival rates could be not only doubled but also more than tripled on occasions”.
“I feel passionately that AEDs should be treated the same, if not with greater importance, than first aid kits, fire fighting equipment and even river rescue equipment,” he added.
“Wales could lead the way in the UK in this vital public health saving issue.”
Mrs Thomas said: “Jack was a healthy boy who never had any underlying health problems whatsoever. It was such a shock.
“He was just sat on the sofa and his heart just stopped. We still don’t know till this day what has happened to Jack.”
Mrs Thomas told AMs of Jack’s Appeal – the Argus-backed campaign to raise money to get defibrillators in every comprehensive school in the Rhymney Valley and Gwent – and of her work to get heart screening in schools.
She said that a heart screening programme is due to come to Oakdale Comprehensive on what would have been Jack's 18th birthday, June 6.
Richard Lee of the Welsh Ambulance Trust told AMs he knew of one leisure centre in Wales which has resuscitated people on three different occasions before they’ve arrived.
Petitions committee will now consider what to do next, and could decide to take further evidence from the health minister Mark Drakeford or hold its own inquiry.
The Argus has teamed up with Jack’s parents to get a heart defibrillator, which cost around £1,000 each, into every secondary school in Gwent and the Rhymney Valley. So far more than £4,300 has been raised.