'Without them I wouldn't have a dad today' - swimming pool staff praised for saving life of pensioner
The family of a pensioner who suffered a heart attack while swimming at a leisure centre has praised its staff for "saving his life".
Eric Capes (74) was pulled unconscious from the water by lifeguards who began CPR on him.
The grandfather, who swims at the pool at Bangor Aurora leisure centre in Co Down every week, had suffered a cardiac episode and was spotted sinking in the water by another swimmer on Tuesday.
Staff members used the leisure centre's defibrillator to resuscitate him, while they called for an ambulance.
Eric's son Gareth thanked staff for their heroic act and said that without their quick-thinking, his dad would not be alive today.
"It was the training and quick thinking.
"You see these defibrillator machines everywhere but you don't give it much thought, but when something like this happens you see how invaluable they are, and the people who are using them," Gareth said.
"He was lying there beside the pool for three minutes and they were able to save him.
"Instead of planning a funeral, we are able to praise everyone for their quick actions. I can't thank the staff enough - without them I wouldn't have a dad today."
Eric, who is recovering in the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald swims at the centre once a week to keep fit.
Gareth explained that his dad will now have to undergo a heart bypass procedure and will be in hospital for up to six weeks.
Gareth added: "The doctors said that if he had been anywhere else he might not have been so lucky.
"He's naturally a very fit man - he volunteers at the Abbey Church and goes walking and has six grandkids to keep him going, so he enjoys keeping fit. We are very lucky to have him alive today."
Stevie Conn, the facilities manager at Bangor Aurora, said: "I was in a meeting at the time of the incident, but heard on the tannoy that there was a 'code blue poolside', which meant a swimmer was in difficulty.
"We rushed from the meeting to find lifeguards Tony Galbraith and Cathy McGimpsey resuscitating Eric using CPR, then our in-house defibrillator.
"Our reception staff had already called for an ambulance. This was a whole team effort, though. They all came together to help Eric, from the lifeguards and reception staff to our sales people.
"This just shows what a great bunch of people we've got here at the Aurora."
Mr Conn said the team was looking forward to seeing Eric back at the centre.
UUP MLA for North Down, Alan Chambers, paid tribute to the staff and members of the public who assisted.
"The staff spend many long hours on training for such an emergency and I am delighted that this all kicked in when they were called on to deal with an actual rescue and resuscitation event," he said.
"Their professional response should be reassuring to all those who use the centre."
The MLA said the incident underlined the importance of defibrillators.
He commented: "I fought long and hard to convince council that a defibrillator was essential equipment for a leisure facility and not something that was bought just to hang on a wall.
"I was delighted to finally convince them to purchase such equipment and this is the second time it has been used in a life-saving situation in council leisure facilities.
"I hope the rescued gentleman makes a full recovery."