From L-R: Fiona Jones, Joanne Hulme, Steven Curry and Kerry Barnett

‘Little Legs’ says a big thankyou to ambulance staff for saving his life

Steven Curry, 40 from Dinnington Village says thank you to ambulance staff after suffering a cardiac arrest

Despite running up to 40 miles a week and being active all his life, 56 year old Steven Curry, known fondly as ‘little legs’ by his running pals, took everyone by surprise at a local running meet recently when he collapsed with a cardiac arrest.

Luckily, fellow runners from competing clubs, whose day jobs are as a nurse and a paramedic, were on hand to help in the critical minutes that made the difference between life and death for Steven.

Off duty paramedic from Chester-le-Street Fiona Jones and Nurse practitioner Kerry Barnett, were first on scene along with Abigail Dance of AED Medical who was providing medical event cover on behalf of Birtley Athletics. Fiona, who had competed in the very same race, began CPR immediately and was in easy reach of more than one defibrillator to help bring the five foot two Elswick Harrier from Dinnington village back.

Father of one, Steven is convinced that someone was watching over him that day (Monday 22nd May) at Monkton Stadium.  He said, “I cycled 50 miles on the bike the day before and though I was a little tired, I felt OK.  I remember finishing the race, but then coming to and wondering why everyone was making a fuss of me.  I was definitely in the right place at the right time; if I’d stayed home that night it might have happened in front of my son and I might not have made it.”

Fellow runner from Elvet Striders, Fiona knows only too well how important CPR and access to a defibrillator is in such an incident, having been a paramedic with the North East Ambulance Service for 16 years.  

A mother of two herself, Fiona explains, “Kerry called me straight over when it happened and I began working on Steven straight away – we were quick to act and by the time the ambulance crew had arrived we had shocked Steven, brought him around and done a full set of observations.”

On scene, Fiona was quickly joined by NEAS Hazardous Area Response Team paramedic, Joanne Hulme, as well as emergency care team Bob Armstrong and Robin Percy, who quickly whisked Steven off to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle for a stent fitting.

Joanne Hulme who has been with the Trust for 19 years and with the HART team since February, had just started working night shift when she was called to attend to Steven. When she arrived, Joanne gave Steven an ECG and administered pain relief. Backed up by David and Robin, they transported Steven to hospital.  She says, “I travelled in the back of the ambulance with Steven to hospital.  He was in pain but comfortable throughout the journey.  I find doing patient reunions an emotional experience but it’s great to get back and see Steven doing so well.”  

Overwhelmed by the care he received from everyone, Steven wasn’t home for long before he was in touch with the ambulance service, keen to say thank you in person for everything.  He concludes, “I need to say to tell them all what a difference they’ve made, for bringing me back to my family and for helping reassure me that everything was OK.  The ambulance guys were lovely, cracking jokes with me and helping to take my mind of what was a worrying time for me, and they even came back to see how I was doing in the hospital.”


The North East has more than 250 public access defibrillators that are registered with the ambulance service to call upon when required. As a result of Elvet Striders CPR and defibrillator awareness, the club is now championing access to the lifesaving equipment by raising funds at

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