A Suffolk runner who helped saved the life of a fellow athlete during the Ipswich Half Marathon is urging the public to get Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training. 

Kevin Ward, 47, said the first aid training he had received was crucial in enabling him to help John Thurkettle, 60, after he collapsed due to cardiac arrest after 11 miles of the event on October 23. 

Ipswich Star: Runner John Thurkettle suffered a cardiac arrest at mile 11 of the Ipswich Half MarathonRunner John Thurkettle suffered a cardiac arrest at mile 11 of the Ipswich Half Marathon (Image: James Thurkettle)

The Kesgrave Kruisers club member was running with a friend when he noticed a couple of men lying on the ground close to the IP City Centre so he went over to offer some help. 

At that point, Mr Thurkettle was in the recovery position barely breathing and his pulse had stopped, so Mr Ward moved him on to his back and started doing chest compressions. 

Due to the demanding nature of doing chest compressions, at one point he switched with another helper who was working to get Mr Thurkettle breathing, but they managed to revive him just as the paramedics arrived and took him to hospital. 

Ipswich Star: Kevin Ward is a runner for Kesgrave KruisersKevin Ward is a runner for Kesgrave Kruisers (Image: Kevin Ward)

Fellow runners Ben Solway and David Smith also stopped to help Mr Ward with the CPR.

Mr Thurkettle is now waiting for an operation in January to have a stent fitted, which is a plastic tube used to keep arteries open. 

Mr Ward, who is head coach with the Kruisers, said his training was all the more important because there was no defibrillator in the vicinity where Mr Thurkettle collapsed, which would have delivered an electric shock to the heart. 

He said: “It is quite rare that you get somebody back from just doing the chest compressions, but thankfully in this case it just worked.” 

He urged others to get the training, citing statistics showing that patients who have a cardiac arrest in hospital have a 70-80% chance of surviving as there are trained staff on hand immediately to help, whereas outside hospital only 8-10% of people survived. 

He also wanted schoolchildren to be taught first aid so the skills were learned from an early age. 

“The fact that I started the CPR immediately and did not hesitate probably made all the difference for John. If you don’t help then they have no chance, but if you do help, then there is a chance they may survive. Don’t ignore, don’t walk past, do something,” Mr Ward added.

Mr Thurkettle's son James backed Mr Ward's call for CPR training and said the only difference between the 'in hospital' and 'out of hospital' fatality rates was the amount of training the staff had received.

He said: "It was not just those three guys, there were a lot of unsung heroes then- the NHS, the ambulance crews, even the police, they all played a massive part in him being here today.

"There is not a doubt in my mind that we would not have dad with us today without their efforts and there is nothing that we could say that could sufficiently express our gratitude to them."