Sports centre staff save man’s life with machine

From left, Paul Murray, Ed Buthane, Colin Kerr and Helen Kerr with the kit that saved Colin's life. Picture: Joey Kelly
From left, Paul Murray, Ed Buthane, Colin Kerr and Helen Kerr with the kit that saved Colin's life. Picture: Joey Kelly
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Quick-thinking sports centre staff have been praised for using a defibrillator to save the life of a man who collapsed in the gym, as campaigners called for the life-saving machines to be mandatory in all public buildings.

Helen Kerr dropped her husband Colin off for his usual workout at Gracemount Leisure Centre and went to work, unaware that within an hour he would be fighting for his life following a cardiac arrest.

Colin, 49, who works as a care assistant, had no history of heart problems and had been happily chatting with other gym members just moments before his collapse on June 3.

Helen – who wants to see the heart-starting machines in all public buildings – said: “I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to the staff, who certainly saved my husband’s life that day.” When medics arrived on the scene they transported Colin to the ERI where he underwent an emergency procedure to keep his heart functioning normally.

Cartographer Helen, of Gilmerton, continued: “All the staff at the Royal Infirmary whom we spoke with highly commended the actions of the staff at Gracemount Leisure Centre. The rapid response medic visited my husband in hospital and said that in his 16-year career this was the first cardiac arrest incident he’s arrived at where the situation had been under control.”

She added: “In the US, you hear of defibrillators being kept in supermarkets, people even have them in their cars. It’s not something you think of as being as readily available here – but they should be.”

Claire Gately, who helps run a trust in the name of her late brother-in-law, Boyzone star Stephen Gately, said the incident was yet more proof of the need for defibrillator machines in all public buildings.

Claire, who lives in Dalkeith with husband Tony and son Josh, said: “With some simple training, literally anyone can use a defibrillator. All public buildings are required to contain fire extinguishers to keep people safe – why not defibrillators? You cannot put a price on life, but at £1000 they are really not that expensive.”

Singer Gately, 33, died in October 2009 from an undiagnosed heart condition.

Norma Austin Hart, Labour councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton, said: “I am so pleased that Mr Kerr was helped by the staff at Gracemount Leisure Centre during this ordeal. This demonstrates that the training and team work they have worked so hard on has really paid off, and proof that this equipment such as defibrillators can make the vital difference.”

John Comiskey, chief executive at Edinburgh Leisure, said: “We are hugely proud of our staff and delighted to hear that Mr Kerr is now recovering.”