EQUIPMENT that could potentially save the lives of mourners attending funerals has been installed at a crematorium.

Dignity, the operator of the Wear Valley Crematorium at Coundon, near Bishop Auckland, raised funds for a defibrillator through their charity partner, British Heart Foundation.

Staff at the crematorium have been trained to use the equipment. In the past six months, there has tragically been two deaths at crematoria in the UK when visitors have suffered a heart attack when attending a funeral.

Andrea Todd, crematorium manager, said: “Every minute without CPR or defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by around 10 per cent.

"We will always call an ambulance but wanted to do everything we possibly can to provide immediate help. Our partnership with British Heart Foundation has enabled us to purchase a defibrillator to be located at the crematorium for use during an emergency.”

Donna Stokes of the British Heart Foundation said: “Defibrillators need to be available in areas of greatest risk – such as where crowds gather, a location where people are naturally anxious or under stress or possibly somewhere that an ambulance may take time to reach due to traffic congestion or distance from a hospital – so a crematorium meets all of these requirements.”