By Tilak S. Fernando

" If you are not destined to die you will never die, I thought it was too late but he survived", commented Don Hubert of Harold Wood Essex, coming out of the swimming pool at the New Central Park, Harold Wood, after his cry for help having spotted a swimmer lying motionless on the bed of the pool. The London Ambulance Service paramedics later identified the casualty as 43-year-old James Burgin.

Don Hubert, who is a regular swimmer at the New Central Park Swimming Pool, was having his routine morning exercise with another friend around on Saturday 27th November. Suddenly he noticed, while he was swimming under water wearing goggles, a swimmer lying flat on the floor of the pool, towards the deep end. He did not worry at first and thought some one was just practising under water swimming like himself! But even after a minute and a half when the person was not moving an inch from that state Hubert panicked and yelled out to the life guards in shock and excitement. In seconds the whole place looked like a disturbed hornets nest with sirens blaring and lifeguards diving into the water and people running to the scene.

Finally the motionless body of James Bergin, which had turned completely blue by that time, was pulled out of the pool. Then followed a session of First Aid skills by the paramedics and lifeguards to resuscitate the asphyxiated casualty; after working for ten minutes or so they could see some vital signs of life returning back.

The London Ambulance Service men who had rushed to the pool scene upon receiving an emergency call later took James Bergin to the Old Church Hospital. He was identified as an epileptic and treated upon admission and released afterwards. It was also assumed that Bergin had collapsed and sunk into the bottom of the pool due an epileptic seizure. Romford Recorder quoted Don Hubert as saying: " The life guards can't keep an eye on everyone all the time. It just so happened that I spotted the man and raised the alarm."

Hubert was very happy after the traumatic events that took place at the poolside and said it was definitely a miracle where God did stretch his hand to save Bergin's life and making him an instrument for that purpose in this particular instance.

Later Hubert commented: " Had I not been wearing goggles and not done under water swimming myself, even I would not have spotted the guy in the nick of time and the lifeguards would have pulled out only a corpse from the water ! I do not know where he lives even, but I would like to visit him and see him personally and find out how he is progressing," said Don Hubert.

'We normally take swimming pools and lifeguards for granted and one hundred present safe all the time. This incident makes one to think twice on the laid down regulations stipulated by the Government and Local Authorities with regard to the responsibilities and functions of Life Guards employed at swimming pools', said a witness at the incident. 'Should there be a specific number of staff allocation and should not they keep a vigilant eye on swimmers by constant patrolling all the time'? Asked another. Why did in this instance a swimmer had to summon the lifeguards and the drowned man had been under water unnoticed by life guards for a minute and half and until he turned blue? Blurted a sceptic. While there were a few raised eye brows at the pool side following the tragic event which ultimately turned out to be a happy event, those who knew exactly what took place thanked Don Hubert for his heroic deed, which in real fact did the saving of James Burgin's life.



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