A RETIRED sports lecturer who suffered a life-threatening cardiac arrest at the gym has spoken of the importance of lifesaving CPR skills.

John Rawlings, from Machen, was exercising at the David Lloyd health club in Cardiff when he collapsed.

Thankfully, staff member Kyle Baggett jumped into action, grabbing a defibrillator while a member performed CPR.

Mr Rawlins was rushed to the University Hospital of Wales, and now, 18 months on, has spoken about the importance of the vital skills which saved his life.

“I was a relatively fit man," said the 64-year-old. "I enjoyed cycling and going on long walks, and I was known to be a bit of a ‘gym junkie’.

"The morning of the event, I headed to the gym feeling fit and well, then next thing I know I’m waking up in hospital in a trance-like state six weeks later.

“18 months have passed and really, I’ve made an excellent recovery. I’m now able to enjoy life with my wife, Anne. We love to walk, and we’re able to watch our granddaughters grow up which is really special. Life is good.”

Mr Baggett, from Builth Wells, described saving Mr Rawlings' life as "one of the most empowering things I've done".

“It was just a normal Thursday at work," he said. "I was leading a fitness class like any other day when a member of the gym ran in to say there’s an emergency on the gym floor.

“I quickly rushed out to see John lying on the floor with some other gym members around him. I could tell straight away it was a serious situation.

“We had to act quickly because we knew his only chance of survival was in our hands. One of the members started performing CPR while I rushed to get the defibrillator.

“We rang the emergency services immediately who then talked us through the whole process. I’m CPR trained but when you’re in the moment, it’s easy to forget some things, and the ambulance service was brilliant – very calm, clear, and precise, explaining exactly what we had to do.

“My mind was racing. In that situation, I had tunnel vision and I was fixed totally in the moment. I just wanted to save his life.”

South Wales Argus: Kyle Baggett, from Builth WellsKyle Baggett, from Builth Wells

Around 6,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in Wales every year. Both Mr Baggett and Mr Rawlins are now urging others across Wales to learn CPR skills.

“It’s such a relief to see John doing so well," said Mr Baggett. "We keep in contact regularly now and have become friends.

“A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

“Around 80 per cent of them happen within the home, to your loved ones, and your actions could be the difference between life and death.”