Life-saving leisure staff recount how they put vital skills into practice

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image of a defibrillator

Quick-thinking staff at a Wigan borough leisure centre saved a gym-user’s life just an hour after an emergency skills training course.

Workers at Howe Bridge Leisure Centre had just completed a refresher training session on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use a defibrillator (AED) when a man collapsed at the facility.

They were able to put their skills into practice and have spoken of their life-saving actions as part of Restart a Heart day, which has been marked this week.

Their experience from earlier this year has been hailed as a shining example of how effective the training courses can be.

Chris Rimmer, a centre manager at the Atherton facility, was one of the first at the scene after the regular gym-user collapsed.

He said: “Our staff are extremely well trained and knew exactly how to act in this situation and immediately began administering the necessary life saving techniques while emergency serves were called.

“Fortunately we have defibrillators at our sites, at every leisure centre and around our facilities.

“You go away from it really proud without a doubt because you know you’ve made a difference and without the intervention of our team on the day the gym member wouldn’t be with us today.”

The Howe Bridge team gave three shocks to the man using the defibrillator along with other first aid while an ambulance crew arrived.

Restart a Heart day aims to raise people’s awareness of how to perform CPR and use of defibrillators.

Led by the Resuscitation Council (UK) and in partnership with The British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross and St John Ambulance, events are being held across the country with a view to improving the low numbers of people surviving out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

And as part of the Heart of Wigan cardio-vascular disease prevention programme, which includes the creation of Heartstart champions, Wigan Council wants to use the example as a timely reminder to residents about the training opportunities available.

Latest data shows there are over 30,000 cardiac arrests outside of hospital every year in the UK, but the survival rate is less than one in 10.

The chance of survival is estimated to decrease by 10 per cent every minute that goes by without any CPR or defibrillation which underlines how vital a nearby bystander can be in preventing a fatality.

Incidents of cardiac arrest are fairly common and can happen to anyone, at anytime, anywhere so the council’s Public Health team hopes this incident may inspire others to get clued up on what to do.

Professor Kate Ardern, Wigan Council’s director for public health, said: “Restart a heart day is an important day in the calendar which puts CPR and the use of defibrillators on everybody’s agenda.

“I would encourage residents to spare some of their time to take part in training within the borough as the knowledge they gain could be the difference between life and death for a loved one or stranger in the street.

“This story is a perfect example of how training saves lives and I would like to praise the members of staff at Howe Bridge leisure centre for responding so swiftly and calmly while under pressure.”

For more information please email Wigan Council’s Health Improvement team via [email protected]