Boothstown granddad back on-his-feet after lifesaving efforts at Worsley Leisure Centre

4th December 2019

Active pensioner Allan Finch, aged 70, was relaxing in the steam room after his usual early-morning-swim when disaster struck.


Allan, from Boothstown, had passed out in the steam room as he’d suffered a heart attack due to a blocked artery that caused a cardiac arrest.


The Worsley Leisure Centre team sprung swiftly into action performing CPR, followed by two shocks with the on-site Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Defibrillators and effective CPR are the only definitive treatment for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. Without immediate treatment, 95% of cardiac arrests are fatal.

Thanks to the team’s quick response and frequent lifeguard training, Allan was breathing independently by the time the paramedics arrived and the granddad-of-one was taken to Salford Royal Hospital for further treatment. During his six-day-stay in hospital, doctors praised Allan’s active lifestyle informing him that if he was an inactive 70-year-old, the outcome could have been very different.

Just two weeks earlier, non-smoker Allan and his partner Jean had enjoyed a Balkans cruise during which he was fit and healthy, making use of the ship’s facilities including the indoor pool.

Having a heart attack after his regular early morning early morning swim was a total shock to Allan, who did suffer from a leaking heart valve in 2007 but had enjoyed perfect health since then.

Says Allan, who has been a member of Worsley Leisure Centre since it reopened following Salford Community Leisure’s main refit in 2007: ‘I owe my life to the quick response and medical knowledge of the leisure centre staff. It was a real shock to have a heart attack. I was just doing what I always do a few times a week; I had a quick dip in the pool and swam a few lengths and then I spotted some pals so I went into the steam room for a chat and a chill out and I don’t remember anything apart from waking up in hospital.’

Leisure team member Mike Hall was first on the scene followed immediately by duty manager Neil Moss. Mike says: ’I knew straight away that Allan hadn’t just fainted. He wasn’t his usual colour. I’ve been a gym instructor for 13 years, completed many hours of lifeguard training and dealt with other medical issues, but not many of us have been in the type of emergency before where someone’s heart stops. We responded to Allan’s condition by-the-book and all our training simply fell into place. We know that delivering a shock within 3-5 minutes after someone collapses increases the survival chance from 6% to 74% so swift action was crucial.

‘Our colleague Linda had called for the ambulance right away and I worked on Allan for seven minutes before they arrived. We knew Allan was still ‘with us’ so we carried on working on him. We used the defibrillator twice; the first time we did not see much of a response, just a few agonal gasps but the second shock and CPR did the trick.’

Worlsey Leisure Centre Manager, Neil Moss says:

’Allan is a much-loved member of our leisure centre, in fact we see him so much its like he works with us! We’re delighted that our prompt actions were able to help him breathe again independently and that he is back-on-his feet and coming to see us regularly with his usual banter and stories. He died officially for around 10 minutes and our main concern was making sure that his brain was not deprived of oxygen.

‘I am an RLSS NPLQ Trainer Assessor for Salford Community Leisure and we train our lifeguards every single month, refreshing knowledge and keeping up-to-speed, and I am delighted with every single person that looked after Allan that morning. It was a tense few days following the accident to see how he was when he came out of the coma, but he was back on his feet in six days in typical Allan-style’!

Following the incident at the end of August, Allan has been recuperating, holidaying Benidorm and Scotland and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down soon! A huge fan of his local leisure centre, he firmly believes that friendly and accessible local leisure facilities are of great benefit for the fitness and wellbeing of everyone in the community as they not only offer numerous fitness activities, but they also provide an all-important social aspect.

Says Allan:

‘I’m now fully recovered after having a stent fitted. The doctors told me just to carry on exactly as I was before doing regular light-to-moderate exercise and keeping an eye on what I eat and drink. I’m very lucky to be here and I’d say to anyone who is concerned about their own fitness that it is never too late to start looking after yourself and improve your health and fitness. Swimming is a very leisurely activity, anyone can do it, they even offer adults swimming lessons, plus there’s many different classes on offer. The leisure centre is very safe and friendly and the staff go out of their way to have a chat with you. I’ve not felt any stress or worry about coming back here following the accident. Its business as usual!’

Allan has been given the all-clear to carry on with his usual fitness routine and has now also started playing badminton again with his seven teammates.

Editorial contact Alison Short at Project Communications or 07530 732 071.

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