Trainer who saved man backs defibrillator campaign

Instructor Morag Hammond with Brian Saddler, who she helped to save. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Instructor Morag Hammond with Brian Saddler, who she helped to save. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A PERSONAL trainer who saved a collapsed gym user with a defibrillator after he suffered a cardiac arrest has highlighted the vital importance of these heart-start machines.

Fit-and-healthy Brian Saddler, 70, was running on the cross trainer at Westwoods Health Club, in Stockbridge, when he noticed his heart rate speeding up and rapidly plummeting on the monitor.

Brian, who lives in Inverleith, said: “I had this funny feeling in my head and I just said to myself ‘I’m going down’.”

He crumpled to the ground and remembers only an intense burning sensation in his chest – believed to be the defibrillator’s shock to his heart – before he woke up in the Western General Hospital. His saviour was personal trainer Morag Hammond, who rushed to grab the on-site defibrillator while two off-duty nurses delivered CPR.

Morag, who teaches cardiac rehab classes, said: “I knew I needed the defib. There was a moment when I put the pads on his chest and a voice in my head panicked and said: ‘What if this kills him?’

“Another voice kicked in then and I knew if I didn’t use the defib he was going to die.”

Morag shocked Brian three times before paramedics arrived and she has been credited with saving his life.

Brian, who works as a manufacturing consultant, spent ten days in hospital where he had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted to monitor his heart rate before he was allowed home.

The matchbox-sized device is implanted near the collar bone and delivers small shocks whenever the heart rhythms become irregular. Brian’s physical fitness helped him to bounce back quickly but he could not get back to the gym for three months.

Morag, who lives in Leith, said: “It was just so emotional when we saw each other a few months later. Neither of us could stop crying. I wish people knew how simple they are to use - anyone can use one and you don’t need training.” The pair have backed the Evening News’ Shockingly Easy campaign, which aims to install life-saving defibrillators in sports clubs across the Lothians.

James Matthew, general manager at Westwoods, said the club invested in the vital kit a number of years ago.

The Evening News has teamed up with the family of tragic footballer Jamie Skinner, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest while making his debut for Tynecastle on a Saughton playing field.

The appeal has already raised enough money to pay for 18 defibrillators.

IN MEMORY OF JAMIE

THE News has joined the family of Jamie Skinner in launching the Shockingly Easy campaign. With your help and the support of the Scottish Ambulance Service, we hope to ensure there is a defibrillator in every sports centre in the Lothians. How to help:

• Make a donation or fundraise for a defibrillator Defibrillators cost around £2000 each, but your local sports club can secure one for around £1600 through our appeal. Cheques payable to The Jamie Skinner Foundation can be sent to Shockingly Easy, The Edinburgh Evening News, Orchard Brae House, 30 Queensferry Road, EH4 2HS.

• Volunteer to take a defibrillator course If you already have a defibrillator, let us know too, so you can be added to the ambulance services’ defibrillator map of Lothians.

• Learn vital CPR skills

Sign up for a free class or host one. E-mail savealife@edinburghnews.com. Clubs involved include:

• Easthouses FC

• Edinburgh South FC

• Kirkliston & South Queensferry FC

• Lauriston Thistle FC

• Leith Athletic FC

• Loanhead Miners Youth FC

• Sighthill Bowling Club

• Silverknowes Golf Club