Exeter School is the recipient of a UK Heart Safe Award. The co-educational independent school for girls and boys aged 7-18 won the award for the Education category of the awards, hosted by Jenny Powell and the Hand on Heart Charity.
The prestigious award was made for Exeter School’s investment in five defibrillators for school and community use. In the last twelve months, Exeter School has acquired two new defibrillators to add to the three already available across the 25-acre site.
School Nurse Lisa Barlass said she was absolutely delighted Exeter School had been recognised as a heart safe environment.
“We believe it is extremely important to have defibrillators on site; as a very busy and active school, our facilities are used all year round.
“We know that defibrillators save lives and I am proud to work at Exeter School where we provide this service and facility for our school and local community. Thank you for our award.”
Operations Manager Craig Stewart said: “We hire our facilities to many public groups and wanted to make sure our life-saving equipment was on hand, should the need arise.
“Two defibrillators are housed in accessible cabinets on the school grounds; one is outside the headmaster’s office and the other is on the external wall of the astro turf changing rooms. There are three more - in the swimming pool reception, sports hall reception and in the medical room. The school is a secure site with CCTV but the cabinets housing the defibrillators are not locked so these can be accessed at all times.”
114 members of staff have been trained in the use of a defibrillator - 21 of whom in the past year. The school’s first aid training incorporates defibrillator training so all staff who attend this are trained.
In-house defibrillator training delivered by the School Nurse is run during the Health & Safety inset training day, held once a year. Two further qualified members of staff deliver defibrillator training to pupil lifeguards, of whom there are currently 28. This training is refreshed as appropriate in the half termly training sessions for the lifeguards.
Pupils who are involved in the Combined Cadet Force also receive defibrillator training too. Around a dozen Upper Sixth (Year 13) pupils in the RAF section undertake training every year. Every year, around 30 Year 10 pupils participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme undergo lifesaving training as part of the Skill section of the Bronze Award. This lifesaving training includes the use of a defibrillator via the Life Saver website which includes an interactive video https://life-saver.org.uk/
School Nurse Lisa said: “This school year, as well as training our staff, pupil life guards and Combined Cadet Force pupils, we are also planning to roll out further defibrillator training to even more pupils. We believe the lifelong educational value in making children aware of the presence and operation of defibrillators is priceless.”
Exeter City Swimming Club trains daily in the four-lane, 25-metre indoor swimming pool. Over 20 external organisations hire the school’s facilities on a weekly basis from archers to hockey and football players to korfballers! There are another dozen who make use of the school’s extensive grounds and facilities a few times a year, from musicians wishing to use the Music School to Laser Camp, the holiday childcare provider, which hires the school every Easter, May half term and for four weeks over the summer, to the IPC which provides English language tuition to foreign students.
Clear signage can be found at the site of each defibrillator. Exeter School is a landing site for the Coastguard helicopter and used on occasion for emergencies due to our location next to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.
The 8th annual UK Heart Safe Awards took place on Friday 4 October at the AJ Bell Stadium. The Awards were hosted by Jenny Powell and the Hand on Heart Charity, a charity with a mission to keep children safe and prevent the deaths of 12 young people who die each week due to sudden cardiac arrest.
Jenny Powell said: “It was an utter pleasure to host the UK Heart Safe Awards this year supporting Hand On Heart Charity. It was an emotional and heart-warming time of celebration and reflection and I felt honoured to be amongst so many wonderful people committed to such an important cause!”