Elmswell man who suffered heart attack at leisure centre is reunited with his life-savers

James Kettle, Anselm Gurney, Becky Cruikshank, Steve Ward, Olly Claydon, Alan Hartley, James Mullett, Carl Friar, Alison Hopgood
James Kettle, Anselm Gurney, Becky Cruikshank, Steve Ward, Olly Claydon, Alan Hartley, James Mullett, Carl Friar, Alison Hopgood
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A 68-year-old man who suffered a heart attack at a leisure centre has praised quick-thinking staff and paramedics for saving his life.

Alan Hartley, of Elmswell, was on a treadmill at Everyone Active Leisure Centre, in Stowmarket, on January 23 when he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.

Gym staff rushed to his rescue with a defibrillator and, together with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), helped revive him. Now recovering well, he reunited with his life-savers on Monday to thank them.

He said: “The gym staff don’t go to work and expect to save a life and for that I owe them so much. It’s amazing to be able to thank them in person.”

When he collapsed, Becky Cruikshank, from Everyone Active, shouted for help, pushed a panic button and, when it became clear Mr Hartley wasn’t breathing, she started chest compressions.

Her colleague Steve Ward brought the gym’s defibrillator and administered the first and most vital shock.

He said: “You just go into auto pilot in those situations. I just saw someone who was very sick and needed our help.”

Medics from the EEAST were dispatched and the air ambulance called.

The ambulance crew shocked him a further two times and resuscitated him.

Mr Hartley was flown to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where he remained for three days before being discharged.

He had suffered a total blockage of his anterior lateral artery.

Gym staff have received certificates of thanks from the EEAST.

Paramedic supervisor James Mullett said: “The quick recognition of the severity of the incident by the gym staff as well as early cardio pulmonary resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator ensured Alan had the best chance of survival.”

He added: “I would also like to thank the call handler and dispatcher involved; they deserve credit for delivering excellent instructions over the phone as well as dispatching the appropriate resources Alan needed. Everyone did their part to give Alan his life back to him.”

For more information on how defibrillators work, watch this short video at www.youtube.com

Anyone who is interested in working for the ambulance service should visit www.eastamb.nhs.uk