Banker thanks life savers with charity run

14 March 2017

Peckham runner Neil Cole is taking on his first half marathon this weekend thanks to bystanders and paramedics who saved his life after he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Neil, 37, had just finished his second 5K Parkrun of New Year’s Day in at Hilly Fields Park when he collapsed. Four other runners, including a GP, a hospital worker and a life guard, immediately began CPR on Neil while others called for an ambulance.

“The fact that CPR was started straight away was probably what saved Neil,” said Richard Pepper, a Clinical Team Leader with London Ambulance Service who was on scene at the incident.

"If that hadn’t happened, the outcome might have been very different.”

When paramedics arrived they immediately used a defibrillator to shock Neil’s heart back into a strong rhythm and he was rushed to Kings College London’s specialist cardiology department.

Neil, who lives in Peckham Rye, said: “There was no organised first aid at the event so I was lucky that several people taking part knew exactly what to do. I’m incredibly grateful to them and to the paramedics who came to my aid.”

Neil, who works at UBS Bank, is now looking forward to marrying his fiancé Alex early next year.

Since his recovery, Neil has dedicated himself to raising money to buy defibrillators so that others who suffer cardiac arrests have the best chance of survival. He has also persuaded his employers at UBS bank to install defibrillators on each floor of the building where he works.

Having returning to running just six months after his heart attack in 2015, he is now running in the Reading Half Marathon this Sunday and has raised £3,500 so far – enough to buy three defibrillators.

Paramedic Andrew Webster, who was part of the life-saving team, said: “I’ve been doing this job for 16 years and I’ve never had the opportunity to meet someone whose life I’ve helped to save. It’s a humbling experience and something quite special. It is great to see Neil back running again and raising money for a good cause.”

London Ambulance Service Voluntary Responder Group – the charity Neil is fundraising for - has since donated a defibrillator to the Hilly Fields Parkrun.

Richard said: “Being a bit of a runner myself, these events really resonated with me. Neil’s story helps highlight that we’re very proficient at dealing with cardiac arrests, especially when members of the public are prepared to start CPR.

“Often when we treat people in cardiac arrest, we have no idea if they survive, so it’s a real privilege to meet Neil.”

Henry Dom, Community Resuscitation Training Officer with London Ambulance Service, said: Neil's surviving a cardiac arrest in a public place highlights how important it is that members of the public start CPR before the ambulance arrives.

“He’s incredibly lucky they had first aid training and were able to help. It is our aim to make public access defibrillators a statutory obligation, giving it the same status as a fire extinguisher. Everyone should be trained in these easy lifesaving skills and we encourage organisations to acquire defibrillators, without which you cannot survive a cardiac arrest.”

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Neil is fundraising for London Ambulance Service’s Voluntary Responder Group: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Neil-Cole-Alive

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust is the busiest emergency ambulance service in the UK that provides healthcare that is free to patients at the time they receive it.

We have over 5,000 staff, who work across a wide range of roles based in 70 ambulance stations.

We serve more than nine million people who live and work in the London area. We take over 1.8 million emergency calls a year.

For more information, media enquiries or interview requests please contact the Communications Team on 020 7783 2286 or communications@londonambulance.nhs.uk