West London grandad 'lucky to be alive' after seizure in swimming pool – My London

Lifeguards’ training and his ‘natural instinct’ saved his life
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A West London grandad has said he is ‘lucky to be here’ after suffering a cardiac arrest in a swimming pool. David Branscombe, 74, a retired demolition worker from Whitton, near Hounslow, who helped strip out Battersea Power Station and build a new roof for Wimbledon's tennis stadium, sank to the bottom of the water before being given life-saving CPR several times by lifeguards at Isleworth Leisure Centre.
He told MyLondon that he does not remember much of the incident on November 6, but is now on the mend after eight days in hospital due to his brain being starved of oxygen. Mr Branscombe, who suffers from epilepsy, is a regular at the pool as he aims to keep active.
But earlier this month, he had a seizure that could have ended his life. Mr Branscombe said: “It was a normal day for me. I went swimming, and I don’t jump in or dive in. I get in on the ladder and just do my lengths, you know, backwards and forwards.
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He added: “That’s about all I can remember of it, to be honest with you. The people in the hospital are very good […] they got my stomach pumped out, because, obviously, I was lying on the bottom of the pool at the deep end.”
On the leisure centre staff, he added: “They saved my life, two nice boys, and I’ll never know how to thank them.” Asked how he is feeling now after the ordeal, Mr Branscombe said: “I’m fine, I’m fine. I’m still doing my walks and that sort of thing.”
He added he does not know yet whether he will be back in the pool any time soon. Mr Branscombe said: “It depends, once I’m off these tablets and things – I’ll just take it as it comes.”
His wife of 15 years, Gerry Branscombe, 69, a hairdresser, said: “I came home, we’d been away for the weekend, and he said, ‘I’m going to go swimming’. Funnily enough, I said, ‘don’t be long, because Pete’s coming to do the garden and you can help him’.
“And then I got the phone call and all hell broke loose, that was it.” Mrs Brandscombe then described how the couple have since visited the staff at the centre and broke down “floods of tears” thanking them for their actions. She added: “The boys, they were darlings.”
Staff at the centre say recent training proved crucial.
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Lifeguard Darren Taylor said: “On my arrival to poolside, I saw Roberto Kaczor Aquatics Manager kneeling beside the customer performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation […] I approached Roberto but I had no intention of taking over the CPR unless I was asked.
“The technique was very good. After a short period, the AED was delivered to poolside and handed to me to apply directly to the chest of the customer. On placing the pads, the AED analysed the patient’s heart rhythm and advised no shock was required but to continue with CPR.
At this point, the customers condition had changed, and we were able to make a necessary judgement that the need to continue was secondary as the customer had started vomiting. Very soon after this stage the London Ambulance Service arrived and started to take control of the situation.
“Roberto and the other Lifeguards on shift on this day responded immaculately and this gave the customer the best chance of survival. Well done to all my new colleagues on this day.”
One of his colleagues, who did not want to be named, added: “The experience I felt was filled with adrenaline and confusion, but staff training paid off and natural instinct kicked in and from there is just one step at a time like muscle memory its was a relief feeling when I saw the customer breathing again.”
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