Quick-thinking gym staff have been praised for saving a man’s life.
Chris Walton was running on a treadmill at Waves leisure centre, in Whitley Bay, when he suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed.
Staff quickly recognised the problem and within seconds used the centre’s defibrillator, putting in to practice training they had received from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).
They were able to restart Chris’ heart before he was swiftly taken to hospital by ambulance.
The following week the 46-year-old underwent a triple-heart bypass and is now recovering at home.
Chris, who works as a traffic policeman in Whitley Bay, said: “I had been getting chest pains for about a month and was undergoing tests but other than that I felt fine as I don’t drink or smoke, do regular exercise and eat healthily.
“All I can remember is getting on the treadmill at Waves and waking up in hospital. Others have told me I started to wobble and fell off with an almighty crash.
“All the gym staff rushed to help. They realised I’d gone into cardiac arrest and within seconds used the onsite defibrillator to restart my heart.
“They had to shock me three times before my heart started beating again and by the time the ambulance crew arrived I had partly regained consciousness.
“It turns out the major artery to my heart was blocked by up to 94 per cent and within a week I had to undergo a triple heart bypass.
“I’m now in recovery but to say I feel massively lucky to be alive is an understatement. If I’d been anywhere else when my cardiac arrest happened I would have died.
“At Waves there’s a defibrillator on-site and staff are trained regularly how to use it by the North East Ambulance Service. There’s no doubt that saved my life!
“I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me that day. My experience shows how important defibrillator training is – it saves lives – including mine!”
Paul Brolly, community resuscitation training officer for NEAS, who personally trained the leisure centre staff, said: “I’m really proud of the speedy response of the staff at Waves. Without their quick thinking, effective CPR and use of the defibrillator there is no doubt it could have been a very different outcome for Chris.
“For every minute that passes between the heart stopping and the shock being delivered, the chance of survival decreases between seven to ten per cent. Defibrillators are therefore vital to helping save someone’s life.”
Waves which has a gym, health suite, dance studio, café, large leisure pool with slides and a children’s soft play area receives around 480,000 visits per year.
The centre has had a defibrillator for the past three years and this is the first time it has ever been used.
Paul Youlden, senior manager for sport and leisure at North Tyneside Council, said: “We have very high standards of safety at all of our leisure centres and every member of staff knows how to use a defibrillator thanks to training from the North East Ambulance Service, as well as being trained extensively in other life-saving skills
“During the incident involving Chris our processes and procedures instantly kicked in and it was great that everyone worked so well together as a team.
“We’re absolutely delighted that the team was able to help Chris and ultimately save his life.
“To hear that he’s getting better every day makes all that training worthwhile.”
Mayor Norma Redfearn added: “I am delighted to hear that Chris is making a full recovery and I’d like to wish him well.
“I must praise our quick-thinking officers for saving his live – I am extremely proud of the team.
“I would also like to thank the North East Ambulance Service for providing such high quality training, meaning our staff were able to act calmly, promptly and had the skills to resuscitate Chris.”