MIR&W Stories – Cardiac Science Launch Project Heartbeat in Reading

Reading turns to its business community to help plug serious gaps in public access defibrillators



With one of the fastest growing business centres in the country Reading has been chosen to launch Project Heartbeat – a business and community partnership scheme designed to better protect lives.

Launched recently at Reading FC’s Majedski Stadium Project Heartbeat asked local businesses to consider urgent sponsorship of public access defibrillators to help fill a serious gap in provision in the town centre, with full accreditation for doing so.

In most communities the average time for emergency services to arrive following a 999 call can be as much as 8-11 minutes. In the case of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) the victim’s survival rate drops by 7-10% for every minute’s delay. Defibrillation within 3-5 minutes of collapse can produce survival rates as high as 50-70%*.  But devices are not mandatory.

So, shockingly, only 7% of 30,000 people a year survive an out of hospital SCA across the UK.

According to South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) Reading town centre has c 16 registered devices in various locations from John Lewis to Primark and the University to  Broad Street Mall – with a further seven or so further out of town.  That’s to cover the largest town population in the UK – some 300,000 people.

Nic Morecroft, Head of Community Engagement & Training at SCAS, said: “The problem is compounded by the fact that we don’t always know where the devices are and how available they are for public use. That’s why we launched the Save A Life App to get them registered in Reading and help people find them in an emergency.”

All newly installed defibs via the Project Heartbeat scheme will be registered on the App.

Graham Mountford, General Manager of Broad Street Mall, which has over seven million people passing through every year,  echoed the call for business support. He said: “We have one defib in the centre, but could easily install another to make sure that our community has the best possible protection.”

Sponsorship of a public access defibrillator costs c £1,495 and will buy four years’ provision of the device and visibility for supporting companies in the form of an advertising hoarding around the storage cabinet. It will be supported with first responder training for all host sites and an ongoing awareness campaign among the public to build confidence in using one.

Project Heartbeat’s Julie Phillips said: “For less than the price of a daily coffee Reading businesses can make a real difference here. All they need to do is commit to the process and we will take care of finding the host sites like Broad Street Mall – in collaboration with the local ambulance service – and make it all happen.”

Campaigners are hoping that businesses follow the lead of Bewley Homes who donated two defibrillators to the Madejski Stadium in January.

Project Heartbeat is being co-ordinated by defibrillator manufacturers Cardiac Science who will be supplying the latest Powerheart® G5 AED which is ideal for public places and easy to operate, literally talking a first time rescuer through an emergency.