The former Ryder Cup captain, Bernard Gallacher, who nearly died at a golf club in August, is to lead a campaign that will urge golf clubs to purchase defibrillators.
Gallacher, 64, has spoken publicly – at a golf club – for the first time since his heart attack. He said he had no recollection of the incident – in fact all he remembers is waking up in September with a priest next to him.
He now knows that he suffered three cardiac arrests in the days leading up to the major heart attack he experienced during dinner at the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa on the outskirts of Aberdeen on August 29, which led to him collapsing. Fortunately, the club had a defibrillator, which was used on him – otherwise he would have died. His condition was so severe that he still spent seven days in intensive care after having his life saved.
Speaking at the Wentworth Club earlier this week, Bernard Gallacher said: “I don’t remember anything about it. All I remember is waking up in hospital five days later with a priest beside my bed. I’m lucky to be here.”
The 1995 Ryder Cup winning captain added: “I had no pain, no warning of what was coming. People said I suddenly collapsed. They said it looked like I’d been floored by a boxer.
“The hotel had a defibrillator, which was incredibly lucky. If it hadn’t been I wouldn’t be here. These people saved my life.”
A spokesman for Bernard Gallacher said that the Scotsman has been so moved by the incident that he wants to lead a campaign that makes defibrillators more available at golf venues, potentially saving many more lives.
“Thanks to the composed and quick thinking of staff and guests at the engagement, as well as quick access to a defibrillator, Bernard is now on his way to making a full recovery with no long term effects expected,” he said.
“The availability of a defibrillator was central in giving Bernard a chance of survival and along with his wife Lesley and the support of the PGA and European Tour, he will be championing a campaign to make defibrillators widely accessible at golf courses around the UK.
“In fact he is planning his return to the golf course as well as leading the campaign for defibrillators.”
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) analyse the cardiac rhythm of people and provide electric shocks to their chests if they have suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. The device, for instance, saved the life of footballer Fabrice Muamba in 2012, when he suffered a heart attack during a game.
The news comes as Nairn Golf Club in Scotland has installed a defibrillator in its clubhouse – after a golfer suffered a heart attack on the course.
All staff at the club will be trained by a local GP to use the £1,500-worth of equipment so they can react swiftly if a similar incident occurs again.
Club manager Yvonne Forgan said: “Installing a defibrillator provides the best possible help in the event of an emergency.
“An ambulance can be here within a few minutes but when every second counts this piece of equipment could be invaluable.
“We hope we never have to use it, but it’s reassuring to know it’s there if needed.
“Like all other golf clubs, we have an ageing membership and having a defibrillator ready for an emergency response is something we feel is good practice.”
A retired American lawyer suffered a heart attack while on the Nairn course earlier this year. Fortunately, her caddy convinced her to be driven to a nearby hospital, where the condition was diagnosed. His intervention has been credited as saving her life.