Well-trained team saves the life of 70-year-old Brackley swimmer

The fact that lifeguards at South Northamptonshire leisure centres are trained to deal with emergencies was proven when they saved the life of a swimmer at Brackley Leisure Centre in November.

Published: Tuesday, 24th December 2019

The Brackley resident, who has asked to remain anonymous, said the quick action of centre staff, members of the public and the emergency services saved his life when he went into full cardiac arrest while swimming.

He said: "The doctors told me I had died for three minutes, that’s why the speed of the people who helped was so important.

"If I been anywhere else, out in town or driving a car, anywhere without trained people and a defib, I wouldn’t be here today.

"To say thanks seems hollow, but I am incredibly grateful."

His partner described how the incident unfolded.

She said: “I was in the pool swimming towards the shallow end and I saw a group of people and thought someone must be having difficulties and I need to go over and help.

"I couldn’t believe it when I saw who it was, he’s a strong swimmer, runs, plays tennis and cycles, we’re both here quite often.

"Then the panic kicked in. It’s a cliché, but everything was in slow motion. I heard someone say, ‘there’s no pulse and he’s not breathing.’ I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

"That’s when it all kicked in, the CPR, the defibrillator, all their training came in to play.

"One shock of the defib and his eyes gradually fluttered open and he was back!

"And I must pay tribute to everyone in the pool, members of the public, they were brilliant, and we’ve kept in touch with some of them."

The leisure centres in South Northants are operated by Legacy Leisure on behalf of South Northamptonshire Council (SNC).

Legacy Leisure’s Centre Manager Sam Jordan said in ten years working in leisure centres, this had been the first poolside cardiac arrest he had seen.

He said: “They don’t happen often, that’s why it’s important to train regularly in case it does. Especially considering they are a young team, Tom who reacted first is only 18 years old. 

"Every month they train in CPR and with defibs, they are not allowed to work if they don’t complete it."

Cllr Karen Cooper, SNC’s portfolio holder for wellbeing, said: “This gentleman was out of hospital within a week and doctors have said his quick recovery is due to his active lifestyle. I would urge others to learn from his example.

"I would also like to pay tribute to Sam and his team at Brackley Leisure Centre, they have demonstrated the skills, good practice and character we expect to be in place as a local authority on behalf of residents.”