Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Run Victims 'Could Have Been Saved'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Run Victims 'Could Have Been Saved'

Article excerpt

Byline: By Daniel Cochlin

Four runners who collapsed and died during last year's Great North Run could have been saved if more medics had been on duty, an inquest heard yesterday.

An off-duty doctor who desperately tried to save one of the runners after he fell told the hearing into their deaths that paramedics had struggled to cope during the event.

Dr Russell Curtis launched a desperate bid to save 28-year-old fitness fanatic Reuban Wilson after he collapsed in front of him on the approach to the finishing stretch in South Shields.

He told the inquest that medical cover was "lacking" on the day, as many participants struggled to cope in the heat.

Dr Curtis told the hearing at Gateshead Civic Centre that the ambulance battled past thousands of runners up the John Reid Road.

Within an hour, three other runners collapsed in the final three miles of the race, all of whom died.

The families of Mr Wilson, 52-year-old deputy head Phil Lewis, 43-year-old civil engineer David Mahaffey, businessman Kieran Patching, who was 34, said they were all dedicated runners, keen to perform well in the famous 13.1-mile half-marathon.

They told Gateshead and South Tyneside coroner Terrence Carney that the men were well prepared and enthusiastic about the race, in which 40,000 people took part.

Mr Wilson, a company director for a conservatory firm who worked in Newcastle for three years, was running the race to raise money for a hospice in North Yorkshire which looked after his terminally ill nephew.

Organisers Nova had medical facilities every half mile, a fleet of more than 16 ambulances with defibrillator units ( electric pads designed to force a pulse to restart ( two paramedic bikes and two field hospitals at the finish ( as well as regular water stops and showers.

But witnesses said ambulances took up to 45 minutes to reach the runners and Dr Curtis, who even ran to his nearby home to fetch a vial of adrenalin in a last-ditch bid to restart Mr Wilson's heart, said he could have been saved if an ambulance had arrived sooner. …

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