Stuart Hoare, a 60-year-old from Emsworth, was exercising on a treadmill at Horizon Leisure Centre’s gym in Havant when he suffered the cardiac arrest, causing him to collapse and trigger a medical emergency alarm to staff.
The emergency saw CPR-trained staff and an off-duty paramedic – who was using the gym at the time - jump into action to save Stuart, who had stopped breathing and begun foaming at the mouth.
After three rounds of CPR and a shock from the defibrillator unit, Stuart resumed breathing just as paramedics arrived, with an ambulance rushing the patient to Queen Alexandra Hospital.
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Now Stuart has returned to the gym to thank the staff – and join them in calling for wider CPR training and defibrillator units across the community.
The dad-of-one said: I’m very humbled by the Horizon staff’s knowledge of CPR and it’s a knowledge more people need to have. It’s given me a second chance at life.
‘I’m eternally grateful to the guys here and I’ll never forget it.’
While he was in a coma in hospital and with his condition worsening, Stuart’s wife Jane was asked to make the agonizing decision to turn off his life support – before a last-minute improvement spared the family from a tragedy before Christmas.
Jane said: ‘It’s massive to have Stuart here for Christmas.’
Stuart added: ‘The day itself, I have no recollection of what went on at all. I was on a life support machine for two and a half weeks.
‘After that, my wife and son made the decision for the life-support to be turned off – my wife received a call six hours later to say I was still breathing and things were looking a lot brighter than they had been over the previous two weeks.’
Now Stuart has returned to the gym to thank staff members Reece Parsons, 22, and Mike Davies, 32, whose quick-thinking and cool heads meant the Hoare family could spend another Christmas together.
Reece said: ‘It’s so nice to see him again. It’s lovely to know that he’s recovering.
‘To make a full recovery especially after seeing how he was in the gym – even the paramedics were unsure if he would make it to hospital.
‘When we heard he would come back in, it was closure for us.’
There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year, with a survival rate of less than one in ten, according to the British Heart Foundation.
The leisure centre works to have four members of staff who are CPR trained on site at any one time – and now it aims to have all members of staff CPR trained by May.
Mike, a senior duty manager who has been at the gym for five years, said: ‘Ten years ago was the last time anything like this happened.
‘It’s so important that more people know what to do in the event of an emergency.
‘Those skills will save someone’s life – go out and do it.’
St John Ambulance offers a range of first aid courses, including CPR and defibrillator use, across the country.