Heart stop Norwich man saved by quick thinking gym staff

A Norwich father-of-two managed to cheat death after his heart stopped for nearly two minutes during a workout - thanks to the quick thinking of those around him.

Staff at the Norfolk Health and Racquets Club, Drayton High Road, rushed to help fitness enthusiast Lyndon Green after he collapsed while he was racing his 13-year-old son on the rowing machine.

After their swift use of a defibrillator to jump-start his heart back to life he spent two days unconscious in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and awoke... just as his grand-daughter Matilda was born.

Mr Green, who runs a social marketing company with his wife Maggie and lives on Mile End Road, to the west of the city, remembers nothing from the episode and had no history of heart failure until that day.

The 44-year-old said: 'It was total shock when I found out what had happened as I am a relatively fit guy - I go to the gym twice a week, eat healthily and do all the right things, and then all of a sudden it hits you like a train.'

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Now he has been back to thank gym staff for their life-saving efforts. He said: 'I was in total awe of the staff and so grateful. It's one thing training on a dummy but to save someone's life is admirable.'

Mr Green was halfway through a workout alongside son Fraser when he collapsed, causing Fraser to cry out for help and rush to call an ambulance.

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Swift to help him were three members of staff at the club, which is also known as the Esporta gym. These were Luke Matthews, David Loughlin, who performed CPR, and his colleague Helen Barnes, who brought out the centre's defibrillator, which pumps a high quantity of volts through to the heart.

The sports centre's general manager Neil Campbell, 39, explained that their swift actions would have been helped by a safety training session two weeks previously, introduced as part of wider safety measures after the gym was taken over by Virgin Active.

Of the life-saving day, which took place in three weeks ago, he said: 'I got there just as paramedics arrived and we were standing over what could potentially have been a dead body with five paramedics who were there with him after we got the pulse started.

'It was about keeping everyone calm and trying to be of assistance of everyone who needed it. The gym staff did everything they should and it was an honour watching them save his life.'

Rushed from the scene at around 5.30pm and heavily sedated when he got into hospital, doctors were unsure whether he would make it, or if he would suffer brain damage.

But two days later, on Tuesday September 20 that he awoke - just as his 23-year-old daughter Carly Gerrard was giving birth at her home in Nelson Street, north Norwich.

His wife, Maggie Green was keen to emphasise the importance of defibrillators as a life-saving tool. The 42-year-old had kept vigil at his bedside and spoke of the moment she knew her husband had pulled through.

'He couldn't speak at first so when he was coming round he rose his finger to let us know he knew where he was. I was holding his hand and said hello and asked if there was any chance he could squeeze it. He did, and it was a great moment.'

She added that they discovered shortly after that Matilda had been born at roughly the same time.

'It was scary at the time but they both came through and it was so exciting too. We didn't see Matilda till a week later, but it was definitely a strange day.'

Mr Green plans to return to his normal regime within six months. 'I'm fairly pragmatic about these things but it does make you how life is fragile and it's important to have the right priorities. Because of what's happened I'm looking more closely at the way I live.'

• Have you been helped by a local hero? Contact John Owens on 01603 772439.

Defibrillators save lives by delivering a dose of electrical charge to the heart through electrodes and come in many shapes and sizes, with some implantable, others found in public places and others carried by the emergency services.

With developing technology, they have become easier to use and more widespread, something seen in a number of instances across Norfolk.

Earlier this year, funds were raised to buy a �1000 defibrillator at Cavell Primary and Nursery School in Lakenham after the death of the father-in-law of a teaching assistant at the school from cardiac arrest. He is estimated to be one of around 400 to be killed by such an attack every year in the county.

The device at the school is kept open for public aid in the area should it be required, and followed on from a programme across the county's schools called Heart Start on behalf of the East of England Ambulance Service.

Among many life-saving tips, it also educated children as to the role of the machine, which can dole out between 200 and 1700 volts.

Elsewhere, a year long fundraising campaign in the Sheringham and Holt areas saw enough cash for three defibrillators, while figures from August show that there were 16 such machines accessible to the public across the county.

The survival rate for someone suffering cardiac arrest is 5pc with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) alone, while with defibrillation some studies put it as high as more than 70pc.

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