Firefighter who almost died at Great South Run finish line thanks all who helped him

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VETERAN Great South Run participant Russell Brown has thanked other runners for saving his life at the race.

The 58-year-old animal rescue officer collapsed yards from the finishing line with a serious heart condition. He had to be given CPR.

GRATEFUL Russell Brown pictured with medals from previous races he has taken part in             Picture: Sarah Standing (143378-7560)

GRATEFUL Russell Brown pictured with medals from previous races he has taken part in Picture: Sarah Standing (143378-7560)

Now he wants to thank the brilliant volunteer medics at October’s race, staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, and two runners who scooped him up and put him in a wheelchair after he collapsed at the event, which he has completed 15 times.

Russell, known as Buster, has raised thousands of pounds for charity through running over the years.

He said: ‘As I approached the finishing straight, without any warning, I got into difficulties and suddenly collapsed. It was like turning off a light switch.

‘Up until then I was having a comfortable run and feeling very good.

‘As this was going to be my last run I wanted to savour the atmosphere of the home straight.

‘I made it comfortably round Henderson Road and past the Yomping Royal Marine – the toughest part.’

The next thing Buster remembers is hearing a split second of two-tone horns and the feeling of being in a moving vehicle. That was followed by looking up at white lights and a white ceiling, with faces all around him.

He added: ‘Each one was busy doing things to my body as I lay on a bed in A&E. I’m a firefighter. I attend and help others who are in a predicament, not the other way around, yet there I was being tended to by medics.

‘The strangest thing was I had no warning signs of this imminent collapse.

‘I had no feelings in my chest nor any ill feelings whatsoever. I felt fine, albeit a little tired, which I would expect after nearly 10 miles’ running. My preparation had been normal for the run.’

Buster’s wife Angie had taken part in the race but had no idea where her husband was. She was waiting at their camper van in just her running kit with no keys.

A kind couple, who were down from Leeds for the weekend to watch their son take part, looked after her and took her to QA to be with Buster.

‘What fantastic people,’ said Buster. ‘Humanity is very humbling.’

He was kept in for three days of tests but it is unclear what happened.

Buster added: ‘I cannot express enough my gratitude to the Great South Run medical team who assisted me, potentially saving my life.

‘I need to thank the two runners who assisted me when I collapsed before being handed over to the medical team.

‘I was not aware of them or their actions until my attention was brought to the photos of my finish in the race.’

They were numbers 6501 (Lee Brown) and 7332 (Oakley Turvey).

‘These men tried to hold me up then placed me into a wheelchair and helped get me over the finish line with the St John Ambulance volunteers,’ said Buster. ‘There I was handed over to the paramedics having received CPR on the finish line.

‘I’d like to personally thank those men for their help and concern, as I would for all those who helped me.’

Buster says he counts himself ‘a very lucky man’ and believes without their help he would not be here today.

‘The medical teams at QA Hospital were, and are, fantastic’ he said.

‘It isn’t until you need their professional care that you realise, as I have, just how hard they all work, working 12-hour shifts non-stop on their feet always with a smile, caring and professional at all times.’

n Do you know the runners who helped Russell? Email elise.brewerton@thenews.co.uk or call the Newsdesk on (023) 9262 2118.