STAFF dealing with thousands of visitors of year have been trained to become lifesavers should anyone fall victim to a heart attack.

Sixteen members of staff at Hambleton District Council have undergone the training and vital life-saving equipment has been installed in their heradquarters.

The Civic Centre at Northallerton is now a registered Automated External Defibrillator facility with its own defibrillator on site to be used in emergencies for both the 35,000 visitors to the centre and for the 300 people who work there.

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The staff - from customer services personnel to directors - have each been trained to use equipment by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service and will be able to administer basic life support until the emergency services arrive.

The portfolio holder for health, Coun Shirley Shepherd, said: “Our four leisure centres in Bedale, Stokesley, Northallerton, Thirsk and Sowerby have all had their own defibrillators since 2009.

“And following the advice of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service we realised that we needed one at the Civic Centre to enable us to help not only the huge amount of visitors, members and staff but also the public in the local vicinity, should the need arise.”

Every year, almost 30,000 people suffer from a cardiac arrest outside hospital in the UK and unless defibrillation is performed within the first few minutes the chances of a successful resuscitation is reduced.

The Resuscitation Council (UK) states that with AEDs installed in public places and used by people working nearby, impressive results have been reported with survival rates as high as 74 per cent with fast response times often possible.