Already many of those employed at the centre have been trained to operate a defibrillator and they hope shoppers and passers by will make a note of its location and take time to read the instructions.
If a member of staff is not available – and the defibrillator can be accessed even when the Spires is closed – all it needs is a 999 call to get the code to unlock the equipment and start resuscitation.
The installation of the defibrillator is just one of the community-inspired initiatives of the Spires management. Another is a ping-pong lounge free for the use of local youngsters.
Fern Golder, the Spires’ centre administrator, said the two table-tennis tables inside a vacant shop unit have been in almost constant use since they were set up last year, and they have been much appreciated by local children and pupils at nearby schools and Barnet College.
Ms Golder (23) who has an Institute of Occupational Safety and Health certificate, is among the Spires’ staff who have been trained to use the defibrillator.
It has been installed beside the lift entrance, just after Carluccio’s, and can be accessed even when the centre is closed, and the shutters are down.
“If there are none of the trained staff around, all you have to do is ring 999, say the location and the operator gives the code to open it up.
“Once you take out the defibrillator there are voiced instructions telling you where to place the pads on the person whose had the cardiac arrest and how to administer the shock need for resuscitation.”
Only ten per cent of people survive a sudden cardiac arrest – and 84 per cent of cases occur outside a health care setting – but when a defibrillator is used it can increase the chances of survival by 74 per cent.
Committee member Janet Littlewood suggested Barnet Residents Association should take the lead in asking the Spires to install a defibrillator.
“Her initiative was enthusiastically supported by the Spires’ management and there is a small plaque above the defibrillator recognising this joint initiative. As far as we know, this is the first publicly available machine in our town centre,” says the association’s newsletter.