A SWIMMER who suffered a massive heart attack during a training session was last night reunited with the man who played a critical role in saving his life.
Jim Burnett collapsed during a training session with Swindon Dolphin at the Health Hydro but first-aid trained coaches, club members and centre staff acted quickly.
One of the club’s Learn to Swim parents, Steve Brain, who previously worked for Great Western Ambulance Service, stepped in and eventually managed the incident.
Steve used the centre’s automated external defibrillator (AED) and Jim was rushed to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for specialist treatment.
Jim, 57, from Broad Town, said: “I owe my life to Steve and to the team who acted so quickly to save me.
“Having the AED also made such a difference. It’s great the centre had it as it meant it could be used straight away and I would be happy to see them used much more widely.”
Jim, who works for Vodafone, had got out of the pool to alert someone when he suffered the heart attack.
He said: “I can’t remember anything, it’s all a complete blank. My understanding is that I was speaking to someone who had turned away.
“When they turned back, I had collapsed in the pool. Luckily they fished me out and Steve came by to put the AED on. That’s the advantage of having the machines at the centre, they can make an immediate difference.”
Steve, 41, from Abbey Meads, works for Honda but was employed for three years by Great Western Ambulance Service as an emergency care assistant. His training kicked in as soon as he realised Jim’s predicament during the masters’ session on December 23.
“Getting the news that Jim was OK was wonderful,” he said. “It was the best Christmas or New Year’s present I could have had.”
Jim was plucked out of the water and given CPR within seconds by a team including Swindon Dolphin coach Doug Alexander, who is also a qualified lifeguard. The swimmer remained unconscious and unresponsive.
Steve said: “I instinctively grabbed the AED as it was nothing I hadn’t done before and I was very happy my former colleagues from the ambulance service turned up so quickly.
“They did all the clever stuff. It’s just fantastic Jim pulled through.”
After several weeks in intensive care, Jim is now on the way to recovery. Swindon Dolphin held a cake and sweet sale at the Milton Road centre last night to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
The club took part in the charity’s Rock up in Red day, with members paying a donation to wear the colour. For more information and details about how to donate visit www.swindondolphin.co.uk or www.rockupinred.org.uk