Yachtsman saved by crew mate after suffering heart attack while sailing on lake
A father who had a heart attack during a sailing race has told how his heroic crewmate prevented their boat capsizing to get him to a defibrillator.
IT worker Norman Khine’s life was miraculously saved after he collapsed and fell to the bottom of his three-sail boat during the competition on a windy lake.
Helmsman Steve Bell had to carry out a solo sail to get him to dry land and the lifesaving device.
The Mirror is campaigning to get defibrillators installed in schools, sports clubs, designated shops and other public buildings.
That Norman is still around to tell the tale of his heart attack in April is all the more remarkable as only one in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which can occur following a heart attack.
The father-of-three, aged 52, said: “During the second race, I felt I wanted to throw up and my chest was like it was going to explode.
“It was really windy and I should have been helping Steve with the boat but I couldn’t do anything. I knew if we capsized and I fell in the water, I would be dead.”
Helmsman Steve got Norman to a rescue boat during the incident as the public looked on at Queen Mary Reservoir in Ashford, Surrey.
Retired oil and gas engineer Steve, 70, from Woking, said: “Norman was semi-prone at the bottom of the boat.
“It was windy and I was struggling to sail the boat on my own but it was clear there was a big problem and I needed to help Norman.
“I was aware that if I did anything wrong or if the boat capsized, it could be terrible.”
Norman said: “I made a last effort to jump to the rescue boat and the man there managed to help me get in. Then I passed out.”
Norman was taken to the pontoon where staff members and a visitor immediately began resuscitating him and using the club’s defibrillator while on the phone to emergency services.
Norman, from Purley in South London, said: “Once I got on the rescue boat, I don’t remember anything until I woke up, surrounded by paramedics who were cutting off my wetsuit.”
An ambulance took Norman to a hospital in Surrey for an emergency coronary angioplasty, where a small balloon was inserted into one of Norman’s arteries to widen it and remove any blockages.
Professor Mark O’Neill, Clinical Director for cardiovascular services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and who was also sailing on the reservoir the same morning, said: “Norman has made an excellent and quite unusual recovery in the circumstances.
“This is down to the quick responses and the right sort of care by everyone who was with him – from his helmsman to the wonderful club staff, the paramedics and subsequently, the hospitals.
“Knowing what to do in a situation like this and doing it quickly, significantly improves the chances of a person surviving a heart attack and recovering well afterwards.”
Tony Bishop, secretary of the Queen Mary Sailing Club, said the club has had a defibrillator for 10 years and holds regular safety training sessions for staff. Since Norman’s heart attack, the club held a fundraising walk and secured nearly £6,000 to buy two new defibrillators.
He said: “Our staff were really calm on the day, leading the resuscitation until the ambulance arrived. Norman has been a member of our club for years and we will be pleased to see him back on the water, hopefully soon.”
The incident happened aboard the three-sail RS400 sailing dinghy at the Queen Mary Sailing Club in late April.
Three weeks later, Norman had a heart bypass at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London and scans so far have shown he has no damage to his heart.
He is now building up his strength and has started a phased return to work before returning to sailing soon.
Norman said: “I’m very lucky to be alive and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who managed to revive me and looked after me on the day and afterwards.
“I’m very grateful to Steve for not capsizing the boat, to the club staff for all they did and to my surgeons for a great job.
“Everyone at St Thomas’ was really good and very kind, although they were so busy.
“It was surreal the way it happened but I was very fortunate it did happen there at the club. If it had been on the street or when I was at home, I wouldn’t have known what to do.”