I felt my legs go wobbly on a run and minutes later I was brought back from the dead | The Sun

IT’S easy to feel invincible, but in a matter of moments your life can be on the line, which Dr Ian Quigley, is well aware of – as a doctor, and as a patient himself.

The 56 had his life saved thanks to the quick thinking, instincts and skill of a selfless group of St John Ambulance volunteers who he has nominated for rushing to his aid, in The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards.

The East London GP had a cardiac arrest at the finish line of the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October 2021.

In the run up to the race his training had been slower than normal, but on the day, he felt pretty great, even sprinting to the finish line.

But when he stopped running, things took a turn for the worse. 

“I looked at my watch, thought, ‘That's a bit slow but I've done it now!’ and then, I felt my legs go wobbly,” he recalls.

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Ian reached for a railing and “next thing I know, I’ve woken up in an ambulance and the paramedic is saying, ‘Hi Ian, you've just had a cardiac arrest and you've been resuscitated.’”

The whole experience was “bizarre” he says – there were no warning signs, he hadn’t even felt breathless, and as a doctor who has saved the life of a cardiac patient himself, with a defibrillator in his own GP practice no less, Ian knows the signs. 

“My wife Tracey was running about nine minutes behind me and ran past the medical tent without knowing I’d nearly died,” he tells The Sun. 

The fact he’s still here is down to the speed and expertise of five St John volunteers: Iain Brooke-Bennett, 34, Immi Beresford-Bone, 27, Chris Monk, 36, Matt Leopold, 36, and Hannah Vidal-Hall, 27.

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“We thought he was having a seizure to begin with,” says Immi. “I got to him and he was making very noisy, irregular breathing, which is an indicator of imminent cardiac arrest.

“Before I'd even managed to say, ‘Get me a defibrillator’, my colleague was doing chest compressions and someone had run to get one.”

They shocked him with the defibrillator and as Immi and the team went to continue chest compressions, Ian actually managed to push them off.

“He was alive! It's a sight I will never forget,” says Immi. 

“It makes you realise the hours of training, learning, standing out when you're probably not actually doing anything apart from getting sore feet, it's all worth it, because of that one moment when you were there.”

What to do if you see someone collapse

If someone collapses in front of you, follow St John Ambulance advice:

Perform a primary survey using DRABC:

  • check for Danger and make sure the area is safe
  • check for a Response from the casualty. Kneel next to their chest and gently shake their shoulders, asking, ‘What has happened?’, ‘Open your eyes! If they do not respond to you in any way they are unresponsive and should be treated as quickly as possible
  • Check that the Airway is open and clear
  • Check if the casualty is Breathing normally. Place your ear above their mouth, looking down their body. Listen for sounds of breathing and see if you can feel their breath on your cheek. Watch to see if their chest moves. Do this for 10 seconds.
  • Circulation. Once you have established they are breathing, look and check for any signs of severe bleeding.

If you have established from the primary survey that they are unresponsive and not breathing, you should ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help while you start CPR.

Ask a helper to find and bring a defibrillator, if available.

Ask your helper to put the phone on speaker and hold it out towards you.

If you are on your own, use the hands-free speaker on a phone so you can start CPR while speaking to ambulance control

Do not leave the casualty to look for a defibrillator yourself. The ambulance will bring one.

Continue to perform CPR until:  

  • emergency help arrives and takes over  
  • the person starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally
  • you are too exhausted to continue (if there is a helper, you can change over every one-to-two minutes, with minimal interruptions to chest compressions)
  • a defibrillator is ready to be used

For more information on how to perform CPR, visit sja.org.uk

For Ian, it means he will get to hold his first grandchild in October – a year on exactly from his cardiac arrest, 

He said: “If the St John Ambulance volunteers hadn’t stepped in, I wouldn’t be here to meet them.

“I think everyone should know what CPR is and how and when to do it and be prepared to do it. 

“It takes guts to approach someone who is on the floor and turning blue. It's much easier to walk away.

“If someone drops in front of you, people need the courage to go up to them and say, ‘How are you?’

“And if you think there's a good chance that they're in cardiac arrest, to just start doing something about it.”


Need some first aid confidence? St John is here to help.

Daniel Lyons, St John Head of Young People Development, says: "I can't stress enough how easy and important it is to learn first aid and lifesaving skills – like CPR. 

“Knowing how to help someone who is injured can not only save a life but can be key to helping you avoid an unnecessary trip to hospital. 

“At St John we want everyone to have the confidence to know what to do in an emergency, and importantly, the confidence to act too. 

“We never know when we might need to use these skills but being trained can make all the difference in helping you save the life of a loved one, a colleague or maybe someone you’ve never met one day. 

“First aid really does save lives."

And volunteers make all the difference.

Daniel says: "Our volunteers are incredible; they are the people who step forward in the moments that matter. 

“They deliver compassion and care every day across the country as emergency ambulance crews, at marathons and music festivals, in hospitals, vaccinating the nation against Covid-19, as well as through our six youth programmes.

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“There are so many opportunities to get involved at St John – from the age of 5 – and it's a fantastic way to enhance your CV, meet new people and make a difference in your community."

Go to www.sja.org.uk to sign up to youth programmes, adult courses or to donate. Donations help to train and equip more life-saving St John volunteers.

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