David Little lives in East Stour and has been a member of Gillingham’s Fitness by Design for 11 years. On 3 March, while visiting the gym, David suffered a cardiac arrest and stopped breathing.  Thanks to the quick response of staff and the use of a defibrillator held at the site, he is here today to tell his tale...

The incident happened while I was at the gym, before I’d begun any exercise, says David. I felt fine one minute and then suddenly collapsed while I was chatting to another gym member. Obviously being able to recall anything after that is impossible, as my heart stopped beating and I was officially dead.

Fortunately for David, Fitness by Design had purchased a defibrillator back in 2005 and staff undergo regular training sessions on its use. This, however, would be the first time it would be put into use for real.

The staff, together with the help of gym member Barbara Turnbull, who has 40 years’ Red Cross experience, sprang into action.  Personal trainer Ben Yorke began performing CPR while a colleague headed straight for the defibrillator. Together they worked incredibly hard to save David’s life. CPR continued and the first defibrillator shock was given. Within four minutes the team had managed to restart David’s heart.

Fitness by Design owner Colin Fricker was on hand with pure oxygen, which helped David until paramedics from the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust arrived. Due to the nature of David’s incident, the ambulance service called for the assistance of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance who arrived in their Critical Care Car.

David was stabilised before being transferred to hospital and is forever grateful to everyone who played a part in saving his life.

I spent eight days in Salisbury District Hospital where I received superb care. I had three stents fitted and will need to take medication every day, but my GP has said that I should fully recover and be as fit and well as before. I was very fit and well before my cardiac arrest and now nearly three months on, I feel great again. I have just finished my six weeks cardiac rehabilitation and am humbled to be alive. I actually believe that I am now starting my second life!

I have been told that only 10% of people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital survive. I can only thank Fitness by Design gym owner Colin Fricker for having the foresight to have a defibrillator on site and to everyone who helped save my life that day.

Chain of Survival 

David’s story is a perfect example of a patient having an intact ‘Chain of Survival’ (right). He received immediate chest compressions, early defibrillation, post resuscitation stabilisation and was transferred directly to a specialist heart hospital (which had the capability to provide procedures on his coronary arteries).

Following the crucially important chest compressions and defibrillation provided by the first responders, the DSAA team enabled David’s heart and brain to be rested and for him to be safely moved directly and very rapidly to the respective hospital. Without any of these links in David’s emergency treatment, he may not have survived.

Please help to give someone like David their best chance of life, by learning safe and effective CPR.

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