Danish principal: “There Ought to Be a Defibrillator in Every School”


“There ought to be a defibrillator in every school,” says Jan Thrane, principal of Denmark’s North Zealand Primary and Upper Secondary School (NGG). It is not yet common practice within Danish primary and upper secondary schools to have defibrillators at their disposal, but the principal of NGG would like to change this.

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With 1,400 pupils, the school is a gathering point for numerous visitors every day, students as well as teachers and parents. Furthermore, the school facilities and premises are utilized for a lot of activities in addition to the daily tuition, such as sports, music, gymnastics, theater, meetings etc., causing a large number of people to move about on the school’s premises. This was the reason why Jan Thrane was inspired by a seminar on first aid and how to use a defibrillator and why, after having participated in the seminar, he prompted the installation of two defibrillators in his school. The Cardiac Science / Danish Red Cross seminar was held on the American Embassy in Copenhagen.

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In close co-operation with the Danish Red Cross, Cardiac Science had invited him to a seminar on cardiac arrest and on ways to improve the chances of survival for those who are struck down by cardiac arrest every year, by ensuring that the employees are able to render the necessary and life-saving first aid, and by installing defibrillators. The seminar in the American Embassy was attended by approximately 100 persons representing Danish companies, organizations and public authorities.

“I was actually highly surprised to learn that such a large number of Danes are struck down by cardiac arrest every year, and that so few survive,” Principal Jan Thrane says. “As a school, we are in charge of the students whilst they are on the school premises, and we have to live up to this responsibility to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, a natural consequence of the knowledge which I obtained during the Cardiac Science seminar was to have two defibrillators installed within the school premises so that a defibrillator can be reached at all times within 35 to 45 seconds.”

Equipment, of course, is only part of the solution. Therefore, besides the purchase of two defibrillators the school instructed teachers in First Aid, including the employment of the defibrillators. For a start the school has sent 12 teachers on a first aid course, and another 12 teachers will follow later. The aim is that all the school’s teachers take a course in first aid.

“My goal is to be able to provide instruction in first aid to all our students in the 8th form of primary and 1st form of upper secondary school so that it will eventually form part of the tuition in physical education. It would provide our students with social competences and skills which will be valuable to them for the rest of their lives, and which may contribute to change the somber statistics on cardiac arrest.

I must admit that what made the deepest impression on me during the seminar in the embassy was a story told by a football player who had been subject to a sudden cardiac arrest, and survived thanks only to an immediate rescue effort and a defibrillator. It was an incredibly intense event, which may actually strike any one of us. During his presentation I decided that in my school we shall be prepared and able to handle this kind of situation. Therefore, I will get the message across to the teachers as well as to our students so that we all learn how to deal with a situation like that,” Jan Thrane points out.

NGG is a private school which, besides primary school and upper secondary school, also comprises an international school as well as a sports college with four branches, i.e. football, handball, golf, and dancing.

“For quite some time now, the international school has expressed a wish that the teachers get a higher degree of knowledge about first aid, and that there be a least one defibrillator in the school, however, so far there has not been any tradition of installing defibrillators in the Danish schools. To me, the seminar in the embassy was an “eye-opener,” putting everything into perspective. I am proud that today we have to defibrillators at our disposal – thanks to Cardiac Science. I very much hope that more schools will follow in our footsteps,”  Jan Thane concludes, emphasizing that he very much hopes that this is an investment which the school will never need to employ.

Even though children and young people are struck down by cardiac arrest only in very rare cases, a 12-year old pupil in another school in the area was struck down shortly after the installation of the defibrillators in NGG, and died.

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