A 21-year-old student died of cardiac arrest while exercising with his girlfriend at a gym in England, according to a coroner.
Coroner Dr. Peter Harrowing declared Henry Best, 21, suffered a cardiac arrest and subsequently died of natural causes at the PureGym in Bristol, England.
The Bristol Post further reported:
A young Bristol student who collapsed and died late at night at a city centre gym would probably not have been saved even if the gym had been fully staffed and paramedics reached him more quickly, a coroner has ruled.
Coroner Dr Peter Harrowing recorded a conclusion that Henry Best died of natural causes after he collapsed suffering a cardiac arrest at the Pure Gym in the Harbourside in Bristol on the evening of January 10 this year. Dr Harrowing said there was no need for a narrative verdict at the end of an inquest that lasted for a day and a half.
And Dr Harrowing also said there was no need for him to make recommendations to prevent future deaths, after hearing that Pure Gym had ‘learned lessons’ and made changes to the way their gyms operate late in the evening, following a report into the tragedy by Bristol City Council’s health and safety officers.
Henry Best was teetotal, and a fit, healthy and active music student who helped run swimming lessons for primary school children and went to the gym regularly. The inquest heard that he was a popular young man and talented musician who cared for everyone around him.
The inquest at Avon Coroner’s Court heard how the 21-year-old student collapsed from a pre-existing but previously undiagnosed heart condition around an hour into a workout at the gym with his girlfriend Holly Jones. They had gone to the gym together at around 10.30pm that evening and Mr Best collapsed in a room on the fourth floor of the building at around 11.30pm.
The family of Mr Best were represented in the inquest, as was Pure Gym, after concerns were raised by the family about staffing, signage and the ability for paramedics called to the scene to reach Mr Best. The inquest heard paramedics were in an ambulance nearby and after being dispatched at 11.31pm, they arrived outside the front of the gym at 11.35pm, but took another six minutes to reach him, after spending a minute or so retrieving equipment from the back of the ambulance. The distressing scenes inside the gym were explained in a series of statements from other gym users who were there and tried to help, and from the paramedics themselves.
The inquest heard that Holly Jones dialled 999 immediately and, under the instruction of the emergency call handlers, administered CPR to Henry for ten minutes before the paramedics took over. Two other gym users in the area at the time came to help, and went off to try to find a member of staff.
At the time, the only member of staff on the premises was a first-aid trained cleaner. Pure Gym is open at other times when it is completely unstaffed and, in those circumstances, there would have been signs up and tannoy announcements informing people that there was an emergency system. The gym, which often operates unstaffed through the night, has an emergency button in most rooms and corridors, signs with a phone number to connect to a central operations room and there was a defibrillator on the same floor as the room where Henry collapsed. On the evening Henry collapsed, tannoy messages explaining emergency procedures were playing every 15 minutes.
At the time, the presence of the cleaner, who was first aid trained, meant the gym was designated as ‘staffed’. The two men who came to help went looking for a staff member at the gym but did not find anyone.
The inquest heard that when paramedics arrived, they could not initially get into the building and had to phone up the emergency number on the door to connect to the control centre to gain access, and once inside, walked around calling out trying to find Mr Best, even phoning back to ask if they were in the right place.
Within minutes, one gym user did come down to meet them on the ground floor and take them to Mr Best, and they arrived at the scene in that room at 11.41pm. The inquest heard that CCTV evidence revealed the cleaner had gone into a cleaning cupboard at 11.19pm, and had told council health and safety investigators that he had been wearing headphones. CCTV footage viewed by police showed that one gym member, who was looking for a member of staff to help Mr Best, knocked on the cleaning cupboard door at 11.38pm, but the cleaner had not responded. CCTV showed the cleaner left the cleaning cupboard at 11.46pm and continued working – completely unaware of the medical emergency on the fourth floor.
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