Leisure staff save man from cardiac arrest

Leisure attendant Stephanie Robinson, Julian Willans and senior leisure attendant Simon Wardle.
Leisure attendant Stephanie Robinson, Julian Willans and senior leisure attendant Simon Wardle.

Prompt action by staff at a Northumberland leisure centre has helped save a man who had a cardiac arrest on the premises.

Julian Willans, a retired teacher from Cramlington, had joined a lifestyle fitness programme and was following his new exercise routine at Concordia Leisure Centre.

The 67-year-old had completed a session on a treadmill and was en route to his next exercise when he suddenly collapsed.

The emergency alarm was raised and trained staff arrived quickly on the scene.

Simon Wardle, senior leisure attendant, was first to arrive and assessed the situation.

He said: “It was obvious that Julian was in a serious condition and it was imperative that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was initiated immediately while a member of staff rang the emergency services.

“Our centre has a defibrillator machine and staff who are trained to use it. Our team of attendants assisted, with additional help from a GP nurse who was on site at the time and who started CPR.”

Paramedics arrived and took him to the Freeman Hospital where he had surgery the next day. He had five stents fitted and was released the day after.

Julian said: “If it wasn’t for the centre staff at Concordia, I wouldn’t be here - they are an absolutely fantastic team. I’m eternally grateful to them and Active Northumberland for saving my life.”

Bruce Ledger, Chief Executive of Active Northumberland, said: “The prompt and professional actions of our staff and the way in which they put their training into practice saved Julian’s life.

“All of our lifeguards, supervisors and senior leisure attendants hold the Royal Lifesaving Society National Pool Lifeguard Qualification which includes CPR and first-aid training.”

“An incident like this highlights how important our trained staff are and we are delighted that Julian can continue to enjoy his life.”

Julian has a new series of exercises to do to aid his recovery after the cardiac arrest and he is looking forward to exercising again at the gym.

He said: “I was a smoker for many years and it has had a massive effect on my health. Unfortunately, you don’t notice the damage and it’s an incremental thing… it’s hidden.

“In a way I’ve been very lucky - if you are going to have a heart attack anywhere, it’s best to have one where there are skilled people on hand. I’m making a good recovery and have started a new exercise programme walking 40 minutes a day - keeping fit is really important.

“I’m just happy to be alive.”