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Man collapses and ‘dies’ right next to defibrillator and friends spring into action to save him

PUBLISHED: 08:58 10 June 2018 | UPDATED: 09:00 11 June 2018

Richard Brown pictured with his son on Saturday, just three days after his ordeal. Photo: Richard Brown

Richard Brown pictured with his son on Saturday, just three days after his ordeal. Photo: Richard Brown

Richard Brown

A man who “died” outside his sailing club only survived because he was within 10ft of a defibrillator.

Richard Brown sailing on the water with the Gorleston club, in the blue boat. Photo: Gorleston Sailing ClubRichard Brown sailing on the water with the Gorleston club, in the blue boat. Photo: Gorleston Sailing Club

Richard Brown, 52, from Norwich had just finished skimming the waves at Gorleston when he complained of a tight-chest.

After a sit-down he made to go home but collapsed and stopped breathing, his friend and club commodore Phil Harlow, said this week.

Mr Harlow, who lives in Hopton, was at Gorleston and Great Yarmouth Sailing Club, close to the Pier Hotel in Gorleston on Thursday when the drama unfolded.

He said not only was Mr Brown fortunate to be near the life-saving equipment, club members had been trained to use it and knew the access code, unlocking precious seconds.

Commodore Phil Harlow of Hopton has told how members of Gorleston sailing club battled to save fellow sailor Richard Brown. Photo: Phil HarlowCommodore Phil Harlow of Hopton has told how members of Gorleston sailing club battled to save fellow sailor Richard Brown. Photo: Phil Harlow

And in another twist the machine had been installed after Mr Brown performed CPR on another sailor who collapsed around three years ago, but sadly did not make it.

MORE: Norwich gets new life-saving defibrillator in city centre thanks to determined mum’s mission

“Thank God it was right next to one of the Heart 2 Heart defibrillators,” Mr Harlow said. “They did a training day with us last year. Three of our members went straight into action. I have never seen anything like it.

“He just fell flat on his face, he didn’t even put his hands out. It was horrible to see. He was making gurgling noises and he was blue. Three of them were working on him, the rest were just trying to get things sorted.

“The defibrillator was very clever. On the second shock we saw him start to breathe.

Jayne Biggs from Heart 2 Heart has helped install more than 50 defibrillators across the county  Picture: Ian BurtJayne Biggs from Heart 2 Heart has helped install more than 50 defibrillators across the county Picture: Ian Burt

“Everyone was very emotional. They were upset while they were doing it, but not in a panic.

“I watched someone literally dead and blue. It was like watching a miracle happen. It was incredible.”

MORE: Mum’s campaign to put life-saving defibrillators in sites to aid others

Mr Brown was taken by ambulance to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where he had an operation involving a balloon in an artery.

He hopes to be back home this week but wont be sailing for the rest of the year.

Jayne Biggs, from Bradwell, set up the Heart 2 Heart charity after her daughter, Violet, suffered a cardiac arrest when she was seven-years-old.

The news that one of the dozens of defibrillators she has installed had helped save a man’s life has reaffirmed to Mrs Biggs why she has put in so much effort with the charity.

She said: “I can’t tell you how emotional I am feeling, I’ve actually cried.

Mr Harlow added: “We are unbelievably grateful that Heart 2 Heart fitted a defibrillator right next to our sailing club, without that and the three club members giving Richard CPR he wouldn’t be here today.”

To find out more about Heart 2 Heart Norfolk visit their Facebook page by clicking this link.

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