Beatty Park Leisure Centre staff commended for efforts in emergency

5 December 2019
In May this year, long-time patron of Beatty Park Leisure Centre, Rick, was having his usual swim at the centre when he suffered a heart attack. Rick was well known by staff at the centre, who were aware that he had some medical issues. Beatty Park’s Coordinator of Aquatics and Operations, Jeff Fondacaro, said that Rick “had been coming for over 30 years to the facility…he was just doing his normal routine in the indoor pool.”

Beatty Park indoor poolNearby lifeguards were alerted to the situation by a woman in the adjoining lane who had noticed Rick floating face down, motionless in the water. Lifeguards James Annett and Andrew Brown quickly got Rick out of the pool and began resuscitation. “The team got into the swing of it – they got him out of the pool quickly and commenced CPR. A couple of the other staff got involved and one of the gym guys helped to get the AED and get that into play,” recalls Jeff.

The other staff involved were lifeguard Hamish Williams, who cleared the pool of swimmers before heading to assist with the CPR, and quick-thinking gym staff member Josh Taraia, who grabbed the centre’s AED and brought it to the scene. “Josh, who got the AED, he was helping with crowd control and giving support to the guys who were doing the CPR,” says Jeff.

Meanwhile, receptionist Kim Vang Thi Huynh had called emergency services and, after a bit of back and forth, got them to call her mobile phone so she could go down to pool deck and allow the rescuers to speak to emergency services directly. The team continued to administer CPR and AED shocks until the paramedics arrived 8 minutes later.

Sadly, due to his failing health, Rick was unable to be revived and later passed away. “Unfortunately, Rick didn’t make it – his health was pretty poor. It was quite emotional; we knew the guy really well – he was one of the family here. So it was hard for those guys to work on someone who they knew so well, and the fact that they didn’t get a positive result.

“I think the thing we got out of it [the situation] was our training. We do quite a bit of in-house training, like emergency response training. The level of training that we had, the lifeguards said ‘without that I think we would have just choked’ so that was really useful,” says Jeff.

Rick was well known and loved by all at Beatty Park which made this a difficult rescue for everyone involved. Andrew Brown, James Annett and Hamish Williams were each awarded a Gold Star Bravery Award with Josh Taraia and Kim Vang Thi Huynh receiving Bravery Commendations, all of them to be commended for their ability to put their training into action to respond to this emergency.