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When staff at Hunwick Primary School, near Crook, took part in a first aid refresher course they realised more could be done to help people in the event of a medical emergency. Teacher Miranda Shale spoke to headteacher Stuart Joyce and a campaign was launched.
Mrs Shale said: "As a school, we felt the importance and benefits a defibrillator has for someone in trouble was staggering and I asked if we could do some fundraising so we could have our own.
"The care of the children is always at the front of our minds and we'd like to be in a position to do the very best we could, should a child get into difficulties."
"Learning that you could have a defib for public access too was even better, as the school is in the centre of Hunwick and very much part of the village community."
Mrs Shale discovered the charity Hand on Heart could provide the machine and a case so it could be publicly accessible, round the clock. She added: "We thought we would need a number of fundraising events to raise enough. However, we informed the parents and carers and their support was absolutely amazing." In the summer every pupil took part in a sponsored mile run or walk around the playing field which, along with large donations from parents and local companies, raised more than £1,600. That was enough to have a defibrillator and cabinet installed on the outside of the school building and to provide 30 Key Stage 2 children with a basic first aid course, which they recently completed. Ten-year-old Georgia Freehand said: "I think it was fun even though it was serious. We got to work with different people too saving each other's lives. It is a very useful skill to have." Other pupils said they feel proud of the school's contribution to the community and would have the confidence to step in if someone needed help. Mr Joyce said: "The response from the pupils and wider community to the fundraising was phenomenal.
"When the school and wider community come together, the benefits to both can be wonderful, and as a school we are proud to have been able to provide something as vital as a defibrillator to our local community." If someone is experiencing heart trouble and an ambulance has been called, the North East Ambulance Service may suggest using a defibrillator to help the casualty and release the code needed to access the device.