STAFF at Chester Zoo who saved the life of an 11-year-old girl who had a heart attack have been honoured with a national award.
The 2016 Heart Safe Awards saw employees from the first aid team winning the Lifesaver of the Year accolade, while the team took home the Leisure and Tourism Organisation of the Year award for a second time.
The awards are designed to celebrate organisations across the nation who have invested in creating safe environments, as well as the actions of individuals who have saved lives.
It was the zoo staff who stole the spotlight on the night for their dedication, commitment and outstanding actions.
Ian McIntosh, the zoo’s health and safety manager, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the team here at the zoo.
“Just over a year ago a young girl, aged 11, suffered a cardiac arrest only a few moments after arriving at the zoo for a day out.
“This Lifesaver of the Year award is testament to the skill and temperament of our first aiders. Under hugely challenging – and very rare – circumstances our team were able to respond quickly and were confident in using their skills and equipment which, ultimately, saved the young girl’s life.
“To be named Leisure and Tourism Organisation of the Year for the second time is also an incredible honour and really highlights the investments that we’ve made in creating a safe environment for our visitors and colleagues.
“We welcomed 1.7 million guests through our gates last year, so we have invested in more defibrillators than ever before, with a total of seven at the zoo. We’ve recently rolled out Heart Start training and received lots of interest, with nearly 70 colleagues completing the course so far, giving them the confidence to take the right steps and provide life support during an emergency.
“It’s very humbling to be acknowledged for the first aid we provide and our team is enormously proud of the recognition.”
Chester Zoo employs more than 390 permanent members of staff, 400 seasonal staff and more than 140 volunteers, and is the UK’s most popular paid-for attraction outside of London.
The winners of the 2016 Heart Safe Awards were announced at The Midland Hotel in Manchester.
Victoria Burrows, Hand on Heart chief executive and UK Heart Safe award organiser, said: “We have had a hugely successful event this year with more award entries and attendees than ever before.
“The standard has been extremely high and so all nominees did extremely well to be shortlisted.
“We are thrilled to name The North Zoological Society (Chester Zoo) Leisure and Tourism Organisation of the Year. It is a fantastic achievement for the organisation and one that is very well-deserved.”
The zoo is eligible for the awards thanks to its commitment to providing a ‘Heart Safe’ environment where life-saving equipment – a defibrillator and training – are provided for staff or customers so resuscitation and life support can be performed immediately if required.