A hill walker who collapsed due to a rare heart condition on the North Yorkshire Moors is set to appear on this week’s Helicopter ER.
Barry Burns, a seasoned walker from Stokesley, was walking the first stretch of the Dales Way last July with friends when he collapsed seven miles in.
The medical episode was very out of character for Barry, who is an experienced walker and very fit for his age.
Speaking of his incident, Barry said: “It all happened very suddenly. I was walking into a small valley when I had strong light-headedness. My friends both went ahead of me, but I couldn’t walk any further and called them back. I had a chocolate bar for energy, but after 500 yards Barry stopped and they realised something was wrong.”
Barry’s friends noticed his pale complexion and decided to call an ambulance. They had no signal, so they had to climb to the top of the hill to call for help.
Due to the seriousness of his condition and the remote area where Barry collapsed, Yorkshire Air Ambulance dispatched their helicopter from RAF Topcliffe.
When their team of medics arrived, initial observations revealed that Barry’s blood pressure was critically low, and he was on the verge of cardiac arrest. The air ambulance crew kept Barry alert to ensure he didn’t deteriorate any further.
Cyclists passing by stopped to help the Paramedics carry the stretcher uphill to the aircraft and Barry was flown to James Cook University Hospital for tests.
Heart specialists found that Barry has a rare condition called Super Ventricular Tachycardia which causes the heart to race erratically, which in serious medical episodes could trigger a lethal heart attack.
Barry recalled having two very similar previous episodes, but he was in areas where he could get himself to safety. Doctors were unable to give a cause to his medical episodes as Super Ventricular Tachycardia can only be detected at the time it is happening by an ECG.
Nine months later, Barry is recovering well but has been advised to take it steady when it comes to long-distance walks. “It was a good ending, it could have been so much worse”, said Barry.
He continued: “Doctors have told me what to look out for and I’m now able to recognise the symptoms prior to an attack. I’m back walking, but I won’t walk anywhere too remote.”
Barry said of Yorkshire Air Ambulance: “They were incredible and could have saved my life. I couldn’t have gotten out of the situation I was in without them, and I don’t know what would have happened. They are brilliant, I can’t praise them enough.”