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Left: Dr Chris Johnson, Consultant in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. Right: Dr Chris Johnson and colleagues from Army Reservist team, 201 Field Hospital after completing the Great North Run

Intensive Care Consultant helps save runner’s life and returns to finish the Great North Run


Consultant in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, Dr Chris Johnson said it was just: ‘a normal day’ when he helped to save the life of a runner who collapsed during Sunday’s Great North Run.

Dr Johnson was running with his Army Reservist team the 201 Field Hospital, when he stopped to help the runner after seeing commotion at the six mile mark of the Great North Run, as he explains: “I got to about the six mile mark of the run and I saw there was a runner who had collapsed at the side of the road. People were already doing CPR and resuscitation, so I stopped to help."

As a medic with the Great North Air Ambulance, Dr Johnson has been trained to provide immediate medical assistance to patients at the scene of an emergency.

“There was a police unit nearby and they brought a defibrillator, which was really the thing that saved his life. He got a couple of electric shocks from the defibrillator and his heart started to beat again.”

Once the ambulance arrived, Dr Johnson and the ambulance crew were able to further assess the patient and trace his heart rhythm with a monitor. The team decided the patient would need further specialist care.

“We decided it would be better to go to the specialist unit at the Freeman Hospital, I phoned them up to explain the situation. They accepted him, so I took the patient with the ambulance crew up to the Freeman.” He added.

After handing the patient over to the specialist teams at the Freeman Hospital, the ambulance crew kindly dropped Dr Johnson back to the point in the run where he had stopped, to finish the half marathon.

Despite taking the patient to hospital, Dr Johnson was still able to complete the run in good time, he said:  “My official time is around 3 hours 59. I was away from the race for about an hour 45, so I think I managed to complete it in around about 2 hours 15.”

The patient is recovering at the Freeman Hospital.

Dr Chris Johnson is an Army Reservist with the 201 Field Hospital. Newcastle Hospitals has recently been awarded the Gold Award, the highest accolade within the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme which supports our staff who are part of the Armed Forces Community.

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