Sports centre staff saved runner’s life

Jim Brown
Jim Brown

Veteran Holytown running champ Jim Brown wants all sports centres to have heart defibrillators - after Bellshill leisure staff used one to save his life.

The 61-year-old fitness fanatic collapsed during a workout at the gym at Bellshill’s Sir Matt Busby Sports Centre, and was later told he would have died without their critical help.

North Lanarkshire Leisuere staff Chris Stewart (29), Willie Shearer (53) and Bruce MacDonald (57) were quickly on the scene, initially administering CPR before using the centre’s defibrillator, which would save Jim’s life.

Two nurses, Elizabeth Gartley and Andrea Freel, who were using the gym at the time, also gave their help.

Former 10,000 metres Scottish record holder Jim was told by his consultant that he owes his life to the centre’s defibrillator and to the swift actions of staff.

He said: “I’m so grateful to all the staff here for the way they reacted after I took ill – I can’t thank them enough. I think all sports centres should have a defibrillator. The fact Sir Matt Busby Sports Centre has one saved my life.

Willie Shearer (duty officer), said: “We’d only completed our defibrillator training a couple of weeks before and it was the first time any of us had used in a live situation.

“The machines are so advanced that they’ll only work if the patient needs it – but it was still quite an anxious experience.”

Jim broke Lachie Stewart’s Scottish record at a AAA event at Crystal Palace in 1974 with a time of 28.00.62 mins, finishing second to Dave Black who broke the then world record with a time of 27.56 mins.

Jim, who now lives in Coatbridge and works in education, was a regular user of the Bellshill centre and has been attending rehab sessions twice a week.