2015 started for me with two consecutive New Year's Day parkruns. I ran 5k at Peckham Rye then made my way to Hilly Fields for another 5k. Quite a few other runners also did the double, including 34-year-old Neil Cole- a regular at Dulwich parkrun with more than 50 parkruns completed.
After crossing the finish line at Hilly Fields, Neil collapsed and lost consciousness. He was obviously very seriously ill, and to be honest I went home thinking that he had probably died - the ambulance had arrived but hadn't moved him and the police had taped off the area around where he was lying. But in fact Neil, who had had a cardiac arrest, survived and has made a full recovery, returning to run at Dulwich parkrun in August (read his story here). As he says, Neil 'was incredibly lucky to be quickly surrounded by some amazing people… my fellow parkrunners came to my rescue and went into life-saving mode. A team of four of them administered CPR for nearly 15 minutes while we waited for an ambulance. They somehow kept my blood (and crucially, oxygen) pumping round my body, which meant that when the ambulance arrived they were able to 'shock' my heart back into a normal rhythm and keep me alive'.
I think New Year's Day made a few of us think much more seriously about first aid and running. Hillyfields parkrun soon secured a defibrillator, which is now kept in the park's cafe. A group of volunteers were trained in its use by London Ambulance Service. I promised myself that I would get some proper first aid training, and I finally got round to it last week with a three day course with St John's Ambulance.
Hopefully I will never need to use the skills I learned (including CPR), but the more people learn this stuff the better. I did the course through work, employers have a duty to make sure that they have trained first aid trainers on site so are usually happy for any volunteers to put themselves forward. But if anybody were to be in trouble while I'm out running I hope I would be able to be of some use. It's not that running is particularly dangerous, but in any activity where large numbers of people are moving around there is some risk.
During the course, like millions before me, I practised my CPR on a dummy based on a mannequin developed for this purpose in the 1950s by Asmund Laerdal in Norway - known as 'Resucsi Anne'. He modelled the face on a cast popular from the late 19th century purporting to be the death mask of an unknown young woman who drowned in the Seine - the face of 'L'inconnue de la Seine' that has featured in the work of Rilke, Aragon, Man Ray and other writers and artists. The trainer repeated the tale of the drowned Parisian last week, but there now seems to be some doubt that the original 'death mask' was actually from a dead woman at all. Contrary to the romantic ideal, people don't generally drown with a smile on their face. But the face mask, and later the CPR dummy, was surely based on an individual who is now dead and there is something poetic about the facial features of the unknown departed being used to teach the kiss of life over a century later.
|L'inconnue de la Seine|