Cadets help treat Richard Walker London Marathon

St John volunteer Treatment Centre Manager Steve Clark: We heard someone had collapsed on the route so one of our foot patrol teams responded immediately. They brought Richard into the treatment centre for immediate assessment. He was identified as requiring the “Majors” bay which we use for urgent cases.

I had no idea where I was or what had happened

Iceland executive chair and marathon runner Richard Walker (pictured, below): The next thing I knew, I was waking up in a tent surrounded by seven or eight paramedics with all sorts of bits attached and covered in ice. It was quite scary. I had no idea where I was or what had happened. I forgot I was running the marathon.

Richard Walker runs London Marathon 2024

St John volunteer, Dr James Dudfield (pictured, below): He was glazed, floppy, unable to answer questions and not responding to pain stimulus. With heatstroke patients, you need to take the core temperature as soon as you can, so we put him on a stretcher and hooked him up to the monitor. He was very hot – his core temperature was 41.

We immediately started cooling him down – we cut his clothes off, placed ice where the large blood vessels are and covered him with cooling blankets.

I understand I nearly died

Richard: I have done an ultra-marathon so I thought I would be OK. I also probably had a bit of Everest arrogance, having summited last year. I’m fit and keep active but probably didn’t do enough training. I definitely pushed myself too hard.

Dr James: People don’t realise necessarily that heat kills, in the sense at that temperature your body – the brain and other organs – cannot handle it. Recognising how ill he was, getting him quickly off the course to the treatment centre and getting him cool is what saved him.

Dr James Dudfield


Steve: It was a case of putting all our training into action. The team, including two teenaged cadets (pictured, top), did exactly what they needed to do and, as a result, they saved his life. It’s what we are there for and they did a very good job at getting him from how he was on arrival to later being able to walk out with his family.

I owe them my life and I thank them from the bottom of my heart

Richard: I understand I almost died. They were amazing – so calm and professional, everyone knew their role. I owe them my life and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. They are the real heroes. Thank God they were there.


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