Complex staff save life of Castlegar resident in local pool
Solid training and quick action saved the life of a 45-year-old Castlegar man at the local aquatic centre May 31, after he suffered sudden cardiac arrest in the swimming pool.
Greg Gritchin is a fit, active Castlegar resident who has been well-known as a local Century 21 realtor for the past eight years. It was on his 45th birthday that he was one of 12 students taking a National Lifeguard Service course when staff noticed he was lying face down in the water, according to recreation director Jim Crockett.
“They jumped in and got him out of the water,” Crockett said, explaining ‘they’ refers to two lifeguards on deck, the course instructor, and the staff member who was co-teaching the course.
“They performed CPR on him and activated the AED (Automated External Defibrillator). The AED called for a shock and they shocked him, and continued with CPR.”
By the time first responders arrived, Gritchin was already coming around (ambulance bays and the fire department are less than a full block away from the pool).
Castlegar fire chief and one of the incident first responders, Gerry Rempel, said he has no doubt pool staff saved Gritchin’s life.
“Yes, they saved his life – it’s not likely he would’ve made it,” Rempel said, referring to the very small window of time – just minutes – in which treatment is required for full recovery from a cardiac arrest.
Gritchin himself said he thinks CPR training and AED equipment should be in every workplace – sudden cardiac arrest can strike anyone, of any age, at any time – sometimes with symptoms beforehand (some as seemingly innocuous as what feels like a passing bout of acid reflux), but sometimes with no warning at all. He said he, himself, had a partially blocked artery on the left side of his heart, of which he was totally unaware.
He said he was utterly shocked (no pun intended) by the turn of events – one minute, he was in the pool, and the next, he was poolside being treated for a life-threatening event.
“I’ve already been in (to the Complex) and talked to all the staff and shown my appreciation,” he said. “They know I’m grateful for their expertise – they are amazing people.”
When asked what his prognosis is – is he going to be okay?, he said, “Oh, yes! 100-per-cent.”
For his part, Crockett said he’s grateful, not only for the excellent training and training upkeep on the part of his staff, but also to the critical incident management offered by Rempel in the wake of a potentially traumatizing event.
“We really appreciate, not only our staff, the fire department and first responders, but also … having people in the community that are there and available for support when people go through these kinds of incidents,” Crockett said.
Rempel, who has extensive training in the field of critical incident management and debriefing, said providing immediate post-incident treatment is critical for responders and witnesses in situations like these (In this case, the three staffers, one instructor and 11 fellow students in the course).
“It can have some pretty long-lasting effects if you don’t treat it within the first 72 hours or so,” he said. “These things can compound on people, and develop into full-blown PTSD.
“You try to provide that intervention as soon as you can.”
This is the second incident in which AED intervention saved the life of a Complex user in the past year – a gentleman playing hockey at the Complex this winter suffered a cardiac arrest and survived thanks to quick action and AED use.