Call handler Gary Mayne, bystander Damon Devine, patient Raymond Honour, rapid response paramedic Clare Edmonds and other bystander Heather Huntley.


A cyclist is alive and well thanks to people coming to his aid and a community defibrillator being close by.

Ray Honour was competing in an event at the South Shields Velodrome when he collapsed just as he started the last lap of a veterans’ race.

Heather Huntley and Damon Devine were both watching the event at the time and came to Ray’s aid, calling 999, beginning CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and calling for someone to collect the community defibrillator.

North East Ambulance Service call handler Gary Mayne immediately dispatched an ambulance on blue lights to the address and talked them through the situation.

Having handled calls for the ambulance service for 12 years, Gary has helped thousands of patients.  He explains, “I can talk to between 45 and 120 patients every shift with different conditions and people can sometimes be nervous about giving CPR or using a defibrillator so it was a huge relief to know that Heather and Damon were there and that they were willing to help Ray whilst the ambulance was travelling.  We can see any community defibrillator within a 500 metre distance of a patient in need in our systems and we know what difference they make.”

Damon, who has never given CPR before, said, “The race was on the last lap when I heard a shout for assistance.  A man was on the floor; he was no longer breathing and we couldn’t find a pulse.  Heather was fantastic at giving instructions.  She is first aid trained and told me exactly what to do.  We gave Ray a number of shocks with the defibrillator.  It was an amazing piece of kit – it just told us what to do all the way through it.”

Rapid response paramedic Clare Edmonds was part of the North East Ambulance Service team that were sent to the incident.  She helped to get Ray’s heart started and helped transport him to hospital. 

Hugely passionate about the value of community based defibrillators, Clare explained: “We can help to revive the heart once we get to a patient in Ray’s condition, but without early CPR and defibrillation, he could have suffered cerebral damage that would have made a difference to his future quality of life.

“Heather and Damon’s actions helped to ensure that Ray had the best chances for a full recovery.  If there hadn’t been a defibrillator in the community and if the people at the event hadn’t used CPR, Ray might not have had the same chances to be here with us all.  Not many people get the chance that Ray has had and I hope that he is able to make the most of his life in the future after his experience. 

“Cases like this are the best example for why we need to increase the number of defibrillators in the community.”

Joined by his wife Joanne and mum Joan, 47-year-old cycling enthusiast Ray Honour, from Fleetham Close in Chester-le-Street reunited with the team who helped to save his life to say thank you recently.  He explained, “It’s unbelievable what people did for me on the day.  I have made such a good recovery, I probably feel as fit if not fitter than before.  I’m on the right medication and my heart is better.

“I can’t really remember anything of the actual incident.  All I remember was that I was doing quite well in the race – leading in my category.  I came round and started the last lap.  The next thing I remember was being in the back of the ambulance.  I’m so grateful to everyone for what they did for me that day.”

Ray was taken to South Tyneside Hospital and later transferred to the Freeman Hospital, with his daughter Rebecca by his side.

It’s only after the incident that he found out that there were hereditary heart problems on both sides of his family.  He’s had three heart stents an internal defibrillator fitted, has had to give up his driving licence for six months and is taking a break from cycle racing – after which he’ll talk to his family and doctors and then decide whether he’ll race again.  For now, he’s already back in the saddle to cycle to work in Peterlee.

In a bid to increase the number of defibrillators in the community, NEAS recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of their value and to offer funding from its charitable trust in key areas.

Community development officer at NEAS, Alex Mason, adds, “When a heart stops beating, oxygen is not being transported to the brain and other vital organs, and within four to five minutes, brain damage will start to occur without intervention.  A victim’s chance of survival falls by around 7 to 10 percent with every minute that defibrillation is delayed.

“Evidence suggests that over a quarter of adults living in the North East currently wouldn’t perform CPR or use defibrillator for fear that they might hurt the person or do it wrong.  Only 8.7% of patients who had resuscitation attempted on them in the North East survived to be discharged from hospital last year.”

To find out more about community defibrillators, find your nearest and apply for funding for one, visit: /our-services/community-defibrillators/funding-opportunities.aspx

If you want to donate to the Charitable Fund, please follow this link:

If someone is unconscious and not breathing normally:

  • Call 999, and ask for an ambulance.
  • Start CPR – press down 5-6cm in the middle of the chest, at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute (approx. 2 per second).   If you are untrained, or unable to give mouth to mouth (rescue breaths), give continuous compressions.   Otherwise, give 30 compressions then two rescue breaths, and continue doing this.
  • If there is a defibrillator nearby (the ambulance call handler will tell you if there is one close), ask someone to fetch it, turn it on, and follow its instructions.
  • Carry on with CPR, and the defibrillator will re-analyse the rhythm every two minutes.   Keep going until:
    • The person shows signs of recovery
    • Help arrives and takes over
    • You are too tired to continue

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