A PROJECT designed to save lives has been backed by The Reading Chronicle following the donation of a defibrillator.

The device has been fitted in the Broad Street Mall and will be available to the public in case of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Project Heartbeat, which is being co-ordinated by Cardiac Science, launched at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday.

It is hoped that other businesses will follow the Chronicle's example by signing up to make their community safer.

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.”

The average response time for the emergency services to arrive can be as much as 11 minutes and survival rates drop by as much as 10 per cent for every minute's delay.

The use of a defibrillator within three to five minutes of a collapse can produce survival rates as high as 70 per cent, but only seven per cent of 30,000 people a year survive an out-of-hospital SCA across the UK.

Editor of The Reading Chronicle, Andrew Colley, said: “Our newspaper has been at the heart of this great community since 1825 and I couldn’t think of a better way to give back to the people of Reading.

“We’re extremely proud of this great scheme and urge other businesses to get involved.

“Although I hope it will never be needed, it is comforting to know that this brilliant life-saving device has been placed in such a busy part of town.”

Sponsorship of a public access defibrillator costs around £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.

Graham Mountford, general manager of Broad Street Mall, added: “We have one defibrillator in the centre, but could easily install another to make sure that our community has the best possible protection.”

For more information on how to get involved go to Project Heartbeat contact 0161 926 0000.