Three incredible Hull Culture and Leisure (HCAL) lifeguards and staff at Albert Avenue Pools, whose quick-thinking and actions saved the life of an 81-year-old swimmer, are being presented with special awards at the Guildhall today (Tuesday 16 October).

George Huggins, who has been using the pools for more than 70 years, suffered a heart attack whilst swimming and was pulled out of the pool by lifeguards Kelly Whitehurst and Macauley Hyde, who then, with the help of centre duty manager Kevin Caselton, used a defibrillator and CPR to restart his heart.

It was the first time the defibrillator, which was installed 15 years ago, had been used. Staff at HCAL facilities are trained to use defibrillators and CPR.

Today (Tuesday 16 October) is the annual World Restart a Heart Day. To mark the day, the lifesaving staff are being presented with awards - including Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) UK awards - by the Lord Mayor at the Guildhall. Hull City Council staff will also be taking part in CPR training.

George said: “If it wasn’t for the sterling work of the lifeguards and other swimmers I wouldn’t be here today.

“A lot of people don’t realise that the defibrillator is there but they are vitally important – they save lives.”

Kelly Whitehurst, 25, has been a lifeguard at Albert Avenue Pools for eight years and during that time she has formed a close bond with George, one of the pool’s regular users.

 She said: “When it happened, the training most definitely just kicks in, our reactions were all so fast and there was no real time to think, our priority was getting George out of the pool and assessing him.

“As part of the training we are thoroughly trained in CPR, however, you never believe you would need to put this training into practice.

“Afterwards we were all in complete shock and were concerned for George. We knew we had done everything we could, but not knowing whether he was still in a stable condition after he left Albert Avenue Pools was an enormous worry.

“All of the staff members and customers who were there during that morning’s events were amazing, we all pulled together like one big community and that is something that will definitely stay with me forever.”

World Restart a Heart Day is an annual initiative which aims to train as many people as possible in CPR, so that more people know these lifesaving skills. Last year, more than 195,000 people were trained on one day; this year’s target is over 200,000.

Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, chair of Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “What amazes me about this story is the composure that the staff showed. They didn’t panic, they trusted their training, and as a result they saved George’s life.

“Many of us pass these defibrillators every day without any real thought about how vital they are. They really do save lives.”

Lifeguards at HCAL leisure centres are certified by the RLSS.

IQL UK is the trading subsidiary of RLLS UK.

Jo Talbot, Interim Director of IQL UK said: “With around 95% of the UK’s lifeguards qualified through our National Pool Lifeguard Qualification, it is a testament to the robust and comprehensive lifeguard training, that the Albert Avenue Pools lifeguarding team were able to assist Mr Huggins quickly, calmly and effectively - they are a credit to the profession. I’d like to wish them many congratulations and continued good health to Mr. Huggins.”

 

World Restart a Heart Day at the Guildhall

World Restart a Heart Day is an annual initiative which aims to train as many people as possible in CPR, so that more people know these lifesaving skills. Last year, more than 195,000 people were trained on one day; this year’s target is over 200,000.

To promote Restart a Heart Day, on Tuesday 16 October between 11am and 3pm, Hull City Council’s Health and Safety team will be on hand in the Guildhall Watchmen’s entrance to demonstrate CPR and the use of a defibrillator.  

Over the last 12 month defibrillators have been used several times to save lives at Hull City Council and Hull Culture and Leisure buildings.

 

Why you should learn to use a defibrillator

  • Chances of survival following an ‘out of hospital’ cardiac arrest can be as low as seven per cent. Use of a defibrillator in the first three minutes can increase survival rates to over 70 per cent.
  • Defibrillators are incredibly reliable, safe and easy to use.
  • You don't need to be a qualified First Aider, so come along to the demonstrations and have a go with our training equipment – a couple of minutes familiarisation is all you need.