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Dave's story

Dave Hatton and his family

Running means everything to Dave Hatton,55, from Horsham. When he embarked on the Steyning Stinger Half Marathon in March 2015, it didn’t seem like a big feat for the lifelong distance runner. He never would have thought that shortly into the race he would suffer a cardiac arrest.

‘I’ve been running since primary school,’ he explains, ‘but I got into long distance running races in the Scouts as a teenager. A lot of these races are in the mountains and I love being outdoors.’

Dave was running the race in March with his wife Rhoda, his step-daughter Emma and her boyfriend Jason, but he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. ‘It’s a race I’ve done quite a few times, and I felt absolutely fine.’

But it wasn’t long into the race until he started to feel pain in his chest. ‘I thought I’d perhaps started off a bit too fast and it was a cold morning. I told them to carry on and I would wait there and get my breath back.

‘I suddenly thought to myself "this doesn’t feel right" and thought I was going to have a heart attack. I’ve previously done a two-day first aid course with St John Ambulance and because of my training I knew what to do.  I quickly weighed up my options and went back out to the road to where the start was. I thought: “At least the St John Ambulance is there and they’ll probably be able to help me”.

‘I wasn’t scared,’ he says, ‘but I couldn’t believe I was actually having a heart attack because I’ve always looked after myself. Just after getting to the St John Ambulance van, Dave knocked on the door, told them his name and said ‘I really don’t feel very well’, and with that he keeled over.

Julie and Dave with AED

St John Ambulance volunteer, Julie, and her team immediately gave Dave CPR before quickly delivering two shocks to Dave’s heart with a defibrillator which saved Dave’s life.

‘The defibrillator was the really crucial thing that day’, says Julie. ‘Without it, we would have still continued resuscitation and called the local ambulance service, but when time’s ticking the heart is beginning to suffer. They’re probably the most vital piece of kit we can carry.’

Since his cardiac arrest, Dave has walked the RAB Mountain Marathon to raise money for a new defibrillator for St John Ambulance. ‘I thought it wasn’t going to happen to me,’ he explains, ‘the experience has brought it all home that anyone can have a heart attack. But if you can get a defibrillator to someone quickly, it increases their chance of survival.’

 ‘I feel very, very lucky,’ Dave concludes, ‘I shouldn’t even be here. But I’m really glad St John Ambulance volunteers were there with a defibrillator that day. To be honest, you don’t really know they’re there until you need them. I’m just really lucky to be given a second chance to get on with my life.’

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