Man goes into cardiac arrest while swimming, alarm system helps save his life

Gary Phillips was swimming laps at the Northwest Cobb YMCA.  

"I think I was on lap eight. I felt a twinge in my heart and thought this is a heck of a place to have a heart attack," said Phillips.

He blacked out and sunk to the bottom of the pool. Alarms started going off.

The YMCA uses a drowning detection system called Poseidon. Cameras surround the pool from above and below the surface of the water and constantly measure the movement of swimmers.

"If a person loses consciousness or sinks to the bottom of the pool the cameras pay attention to the rate of descent. If there is 10 seconds of no movement the alarms will sound," said Megan Benvenuto, Director of the Northwest Cobb YMCA.

A poolside monitor shows the exact location of the person as well as the time they've been underwater.

"It saves valuable seconds a lifeguard might not see when they're scanning," said Benvenuto.

Lifeguards pulled Phillips from the pool. The staff started performing lifesaving measures and called in first responders.

"Of all the places I could be to have something like that happen, this is the place to be," said Phillips.

Phillips had just learned about the Poseidon alert system a few months earlier.

The YMCA staff members recently received life-saving awards from Cobb Fire Rescue.  They received a lifetime of thanks from Phillips.

"I thanked them profusely for saving my life and grateful we had the Poseidon alarm to alert people I was in trouble," said Phillips.

Phillips underwent double bypass surgery and is in cardiac rehab now. He's eager to get back in the pool.

"I'm looking forward to coming back to swim. I'm feeling great, it's great to be alive," said Phillips.

Every YMCA in Metro Atlanta is equipped with the Poseidon system at their indoor and outdoor pools.

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