Two Aberdare lifeguards have received a national award after helping to save the life of a local football player.

15 December 2016

Colin Wallace and Jonathan Daniel, who work at Sobell Leisure Centre, have been awarded a Meritorious Lifeguard certificate from the Royal Life Saving Society UK last Wednesday (7 December) for their swift actions, which saved the man’s life.

Twenty one-year-old Swansea University student Jonathan Daniel, a part time lifeguard at the centre, was supervising a football match on the sports field in September when one of the players, Stephen Thomas, collapsed. It was initially thought that the 28-year-old was having a seizure, but it soon became apparent that he was suffering a sudden cardiac arrest and was not breathing.

An off-duty casualty nurse who was on site watching her children play football cleared Stephen’s airway, while another man carried out chest compressions.

After checking the casualty, Jonathan ran to unlock a nearby gate and clear a path so the emergency vehicles could get through. He also telephoned Colin Wallace, the 54-year-old duty officer at the centre, to advise him on the situation before returning to Stephen to help administer chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Colin arrived on the scene and immediately administered a shock with a defibrillator followed by another one soon after. By the time the ambulance service arrived, Stephen had regained a pulse and was breathing again.

Both Jonathan and Colin hold the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification and had received specialist training from RLSS UK in the use of Automated External Defibrillation (AED).
“Following the call and detail from Jason, I picked up our AED and started to run to the scene. A patrolling police vehicle saw me and took me the rest of the way. My training just took over and the skills and knowledge I’d learned guided me through,” says Colin.

“The CPR carried out by bystanders was vital, without them I’m sure the outcome would have been different. I’d also like to praise Jason for the speed in which he reacted and for making all the right decisions, from ensuring access for the emergency services to his assistance at the scene,” he added.

This was the first time that Jason had dealt with an emergency.

He said: “The training really does help prepare you for such an incident. It was the reason why I was able to remain calm and think clearly. It allowed us to correctly carry out CPR and quickly attach the defibrillator to analyse Stephen’s heart rhythm, long before the ambulance service had arrived. The incident has allowed me to reflect on my actions and given me confidence to deal with a similar situation if it were to occur in future,”.

RLSS UK Chief Executive, Di Steer, said: “We were pleased to hear about Colin and Jonathan using the skills they learnt through the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) to save a man’s life.

“Our NPLQ not only gives lifeguards the skills and abilities to keep people safe in and around a pool, it gives them life skills that they can be used outside of a pool environment. Colin and Jonathan are clear examples as to why it is so important to have first aid skills.”

There are more than 90,000 RLSS UK Pool Lifeguards in the UK trained in the NPLQ. RLSS UK’s NPLQ is the most awarded lifeguard qualification in the United Kingdom and Ireland with around 95 per cent of all pool lifeguards trained by RLSS UK.

Cloun Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Environment, Leisure and Culture, said: “We are proud to have a strong partnership with the community and partner organisations such as Welsh Hearts and Welsh Ambulance Service to ensure we have trained first responders among our leisure staff and defibrillators on site so we can step in in an emergency situation.

“The staff who stepped in at Sobell Leisure Centre did an amazing job and we are so proud they have been recognised by the Royal Life Saving Society UK for their actions that day. It is also lovely to see Stephen looking well and joining us for the presentation.”

Stephen was admitted to hospital and has gone on to make a full recovery.