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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
'Enough' medical cover for race
Great North run: runners cross the Tyne Bridge
The number of entries was capped several years ago
The doctor in charge of the Great North Run told an inquest into the deaths of four men that there was enough medical cover at the event.

Official race doctor Chris Vallis said the half marathon provided better levels of cover than recommended by the Health and Safety Executive.

The hearing had heard paramedics struggled to get through large crowds.

The inquest into the deaths of the four men from County Durham, Leeds, York and Kent is expected to last all week.

Dr Vallis, who was an unpaid volunteer, told the hearing at Gateshead Civic Centre that 16 ambulances were stationed along the route.

He said the field hospital he ran was better staffed than any accident and emergency department in the country on the run in September last year.

Phil Lewis
Phil Lewis was one of the four men who collapsed

There were 24 doctors and the same number of nurses, as well as physiotherapists and first aiders to help people with cramp.

Dr Vallis said it was a "myth" that there were more runners than usual because it was a jubilee event.

He said a cap of 50,000 on the number of runners was put on the event three or four years ago.

Dr Vallis has worked on the half marathon for more than 15 years and said the team was more experienced at organising half marathons than anyone else in the world.

He said the HSE produced a document which sets out guidelines for major public events, and added: "We are vastly in excess of any officially documented guidelines."

The four who died were deputy head teacher Phil Lewis, 52, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, 43-year-old civil engineer David Mahaffey, from York, company director Reuben Wilson, 28, from Leeds, and businessman Kieran Patching, 34, from Walderslade, near Chatham in Kent.

The hearing continues.

Race crowds held back ambulance
06 Jun 06 |  England

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