Stayin' alive

16 December 2013        

Alan Linton

Last year, Alan Linton starred in our 'Hands-only CPR' campaign alongside TV hard man Vinnie Jones, after his golf buddies saved his life after a cardiac arrest on the golf course. Here he talks about his experience, and what Bernard Gallacher's campaign to bring defibrillators to golf courses everywhere means to him.

It doesn’t seem fair that the difference between life and death can be a lottery of whether the people on the scene know what to do.


Hearing about Bernard Gallacher’s cardiac arrest brought it all back.

On February 5, 2012, I collapsed. I was walking off the fifth green of Charleton golf course in Fife. If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of my friends and the British Heart Foundation’s hands-only CPR advert, I wouldn’t be alive today. I was having a cardiac arrest.

As a Scot and a golf fan, I’ve followed Bernard Gallacher’s career from top golfer to victorious Ryder Cup Captain.

He’s a golfing institution and has always seemed so fit and healthy on television. So I was shocked to hear he had a cardiac arrest in an Aberdeen hotel, not far from where I live. It just shows that it can happen to anyone at any time.

But Bernard and I are two of the lucky ones. I’ve been told that fewer than one in ten people survive a cardiac arrest in the UK. Bernard was fortunate that there were people around that could perform CPR and the hotel had a defibrillator to get his heart beating normally again.

It was my mates – Mikey, Brian and Paul – who saved me. Paul had just seen the British Heart Foundation advert with Vinnie Jones demonstrating hands-only CPR to the beat of Stayin Alive by the Bee Gees.

After giving me a playful kick to check I wasn’t messing around, they sprang into action. Paul started CPR, Mikey cleared my airway and Brian called 999.

I’ve since heard the 999 call they made. To this day, I can’t believe how calm they were. I’m not sure I could have done the same. They were unbelievable.

Alan Linton and Vinnie JonesBut I do feel for the families of people who aren’t so lucky. It doesn’t seem fair that the difference between life and death can be a lottery of whether the people on the scene know what to do.

I’m delighted that someone as famous as Bernard is trying to change this. Making defibrillators available at golf courses could keep people like me alive until an ambulance arrives.

But it also relies on bystanders like Mikey, Brian and Paul knowing how to react. A defibrillator is useless if it’s left to sit on a wall. Hopefully Bernard’s campaign alongside the work of charities like the BHF will inspire people to learn CPR and give them the confidence to use a defibrillator in an emergency.

Nearly two years on and my life is back to normal. Like Bernard, I now have a mini defibrillator fitted inside my chest that will automatically shock my heart if it needs it.

I feel great and I’m back playing golf with Mikey, Brian and Paul. But we will never forget that day, or how lucky we are to play each round. It certainly puts a missed putt in to perspective.