All public schools in England will have a defibrillator by the end of the 2022/23 school year, the government has announced.
Department for Education (DfE) officials met campaigners including Mark King, whose 12-year-old son Oliver suffered sudden cardiac arrest while taking part in a swim race in 2011.
King and former England footballer Jamie Carragher worked together to push for mandatory defibrillators in all schools.
Research shows that access to a defibrillator within three to five minutes of cardiac arrest increases the chance of survival by more than 40%.
Since meeting King, who set up the Oliver King Foundation in memory of his son, the government has worked with charities such as the British Heart Foundation to identify the scale of need in schools across England.
State-funded schools will be surveyed to assess the number of devices needed to ensure access for all, with the figure estimated at more than 20,000 in total.
The government has pledged to fund at least one defibrillator in every school, and more for larger campuses. The first deliveries should start before Christmas.
The DfE said the rollout would build on existing requirements for schools to teach first aid as part of the curriculum, with secondary school students learning lifesaving methods such as CPR and why defibrillators work.
Education Secretary James Cleverly said: “Access to funding should not prevent every school from having on-site access to a life-saving defibrillator.
“Evidence clearly shows that defibrillators significantly increase the chances of surviving cardiac arrest, and having them available near sports halls and playgrounds is particularly important as children, young people and the community at broadly use daily.
“That’s why I’m so excited to be able to roll out these devices to schools across the country over the coming year, and hopefully it helps prevent more tragic stories like Oliver King’s. “
King said: “It’s been 11 years since we tragically lost our Ollie to sudden cardiac arrest while attending a swimming lesson at school. If there had been a defibrillator on hand , our son would still be alive today.
“Since 2012, we have fought tenaciously to make defibrillators mandatory in all schools. So I’m delighted that after our decade-long struggle, the government has finally listened and schools are now equipped with it.
“It means families across the country will never have to endure the pain we went through when we lost our Ollie again. I am grateful to the MPs and Ministers who have supported our campaign and in particular to all Ministry of Education.
Carragher said: “This is fantastic news and a testament to the relentless and unwavering campaign of Mark and Joanne King who have fought so hard for this moment.
“They are an inspiring couple who, supported by a small team, have spent more than 10 years fighting for defibrillators in schools so that young lives are not needlessly lost. I am proud to have played a small role to support them and I am delighted that the government has committed to installing this lifesaving kit in all schools.
The government said many schools would already have defibrillators on site but the program would work to “fill the gaps” and ensure all public schools had at least one device.
The equipment could also be used by any outdoor sports team using school facilities.