North Belfast school, Wheatfield Primary, has been gifted an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) from local manufacturer HeartSine® Technologies, in honour of P5 school pupil, Camryn Knocker.
Since birth, eight-year-old Camryn has lived with a severe heart defect and over the years has undergone heart surgeries four times including a valve transplant, in a bid to allow her to live as normal a life as possible.
After hearing about Camryn’s story from the child’s grandmother, Production Supervisor of Belfast-based HeartSine® Technologies who currently lives in the locality, Eileen Erwin, donated one of the manufacturer’s lifesaving AEDs to Wheatfield Primary School in a bid to help.
Speaking at the handover, Camryn Knocker’s mother, Kelly, said:
“I’m grateful to HeartSine® Technologies for their kind generosity.
“As a parent it is a huge relief knowing that in the event of a cardiac arrest, Wheatfield Primary School now has the correct medical equipment in place to cope with the situation immediately and effectively, which will undoubtedly help to increase the chances of survival.”
Kelly Knocker currently volunteers in the Concorde Community Centre in North Belfast, where she helps to oversee the care and provision of social activities such as Youth Club and Summer Scheme, for some of the youngest members of the public.
“More people should be made aware that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a condition that affect’s people of all ages and walks of life and often hits without warning.
“I find it a constant worry how very few people are trained in basic first aid, CPR and defibrillator administration, especially amongst those who are working directly with various members of the local community.”
Adding comment, Headmaster of Wheatfield Primary, John Waugh said:
“Looking after the welfare of our pupils and ensuring that they receive the optimum level of care in a medical emergency is of upmost importance to us here in Wheatfield.
“With that said, it is our responsibility to incorporate lifesaving equipment, such as an AED, into our first aid procedures so that parents can rest assured that we have put the correct measures in place to treat their loved ones effectively and immediately, whilst under our supervision.
“We hope this in turn will encourage other public bodies such as schools and community centres to follow suit.”
HeartSine defibrillators are manufactured in Belfast and available in more than 70 countries across the world. Available in over 30 languages, the automated device talks the responder through the ‘save’ process which can help keep the victim alive until professional medical assistance arrives at the scene.
Hugh Hennessy, Commercial Director at HeartSine® Technologies, the only manufacturer of automated defibrillators in the UK and Ireland, said:
“After hearing about Camryn’s story, it was a great pleasure for all of us at HeartSine to donate this vital piece of equipment to the Wheatfield Primary School.
“As a Northern Irish company, HeartSine employees and their children live, work and socialise in public spaces where these defibrillators are being placed, so we of course have a very strong, personal reason for why we want to support them.
“Like Kelly, we feel passionately about looking after the public’s health and wellbeing by campaigning on their behalf for increased public access to AEDs, which undoubtedly will reduce the number of SCA fatalities.
“With CPR alone, chances of survival after a SCA is less than 5%; however, when combined with the use of an AED, survival rates can increase to over 70%, which is a remarkable difference.
“In addition to this, 84% of SCAs occur outside of a hospital facility, so by equipping local schools, such as Wheatfield Primary, with a defibrillator, peace of mind is achieved amongst parents and staff.
“We wish all the school children of Wheatfield Primary School all the best of luck for the academic year ahead and would like to thank Camryn and her mother Kelly for all their continued support in raising awareness about SCA and defibrillation.”
The AED will be located in the Wheatfield Primary School premises located at 63 Alliance Road, Belfast, BT14 7JE.
For more information about placing a HeartSine defibrillator in your community, please visit www.heartsine.com