55 year old Elswick Harrier suffers a cardiac arrest at Masters track league meeting

Stephen Curry, an active member of Elswick Harriers, the North East of England’s oldest athletics club, suffered a cardiac arrest recently at a North East Masters Athletics Association track and field league meeting. The ever popular Stephen had just finished competing in the 1500m event at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow in Tyne & Wear when he collapsed with a cardiac arrest. Fellow athletes were shocked to witness Stephen, known as Steve little legs fighting for his life at the stadium. Fortunately for this jovial athlete two other local athletes who were also competing were on hand to come to Stephen’s assistance and ultimately save his life. Off duty paramedic Fiona Jones from Chester le Street, County Durham and nurse practitioner Kerry Barnett together with Abigail Dance, AED Medical, who was providing medical event cover, were quickly on the scene and began treating Stephen in the critical minutes after his collapse.

Fiona, who had competed in the same event as Stephen, began CPR and was given access to a defibrillator which helped bring him back after a period of 12 minutes without a heart beat. Stephen, married with one son stated, “I’m convinced someone was watching over me at the meeting on 22nd May at the NEMAA event”. “I had completed a 50 mile cycle ride the previous day and felt a little tired at the meeting”. “I remember finishing the race feeling very depleted and the next thing I remember was coming to and wondering why everyone around me was making such a fuss of me”. “I was without doubt in the right place at the right time as I could have been driving home or sat at home with my son and I might not have made it”.

Fellow athlete Fiona from Elvett Striders in Durham, is well aware of the importance of having defibrillators available at events like this as she has been a paramedic with the North East Ambulance Service for 16 years. Fiona said she began working on Stephen immediately “and by the time the ambulance crew had arrived, we had shocked him and brought him around”. Fiona and the other helpers at the scene were joined by NEAS Hazardous Area Response Team Paramedic, Joanne Hulme, as well as emergency care team Bob Armstrong and Robin Percy, who rapidly whisked Stephen off to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne where he was fitted with a stent.

Now out of hospital and beginning his recover period with support from medical staff, family and friends, Stephen jokes about his experience but knows only too well that events like the track and field league rely on having the support of dedicated people like Fiona and Kerry and of course having vital equipment like defibrillators available just in case they are needed.

Pictured here are Stephen with his life savers, left to right Nurse Kerry Barnett, Joanne Hulme, Stephen and paramedic Fiona Jones. Also Stephen, wife Paula and son Jordan.

Can we assume that all other Masters area leagues have such a high level of medical back up as is available in the North East?

Harry Matthews

Hon. life member, North East Masters Athletics Association (NEMAA) and Elswick Harriers,

Chair, England Athletics Masters Association (EAMA)