RIVINGTON and Blackrod High School in Horwich was the first school in the borough to have its own defibrillator.

The school has three automated external defibrillators and has incorporated life-saving skills into the students’ curriculum.

It bought the devices last summer using a £1,500 donation from Horwich Rotary Club, and now twenty members of staff have been trained to use them.

Pupils have also been learning how to give CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) since September.

School bosses said that, as a large school, they saw the benefits of having a defibrillator on site for the safety of their pupils.

According to staff, the new equipment and training has helped everyone at school feel safer and more prepared should someone suffer a cardiac arrest on site.

Headteacher Tony Purcell said: “The training that we have done and continue to do with students and staff on CPR has been invaluable and it has been very well received by all within school.

“We have incorporated the British Heart Foundation’s Heartstart programme into our curriculum at key stage three and four, and this gives our young people vital life-saving skills to enable them to assist in an emergency.

“Having defibrillators on site, gives us peace of mind that we have access to both the machine and trained staff which helps to make Rivington and Blackrod High School an even safer place to study, work and visit.”

Experts say that intervention during the first few minutes of cardiac arrest is vital and now trained staff will be on hand to give help to anyone who suffers a cardiac arrest at the school.

The machines give verbal instructions and tell users where to place patches on the patient’s chest.

They read the heart rate and will deliver a shock to re-start the heart if needed.

Pam Blears, the school’s office manager, said: “As a first aider in school, I feel confident in dealing with a cardiac arrest, knowing that we have a defibrillator on site.”

The British Heart Foundation’s Heartstart programme was incorporated into the school’s curriculum last September so that every pupil in key stage three and four, as well as some students in the sixth form, will be taught how to help in the event of an emergency.

MP Julie Hilling has been campaigning to have defibrillators installed in her Bolton West constituency, which includes Rivington and Blackrod.

Now The Bolton News has joined forces with Ms Hilling to extend the campaign and ensure that every school leaver in Bolton is a life-saver.

As well as asking schools to teach life-saving skills, we are also supporting the Hearts and Goals campaign, run by Bolton Wanderers, the North West Ambulance Service, Bolton Wanderers Community Trust and the Arrythmia Alliance.

The aim is to make more defibrillators available in public places.