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Above - Stewards encircle Bob outside the Amex as he receives CPR

Fan’s life saved at Amex – shows importance of CPR

Throughout the season we hear about stories of supporters who have serious medical emergencies in football stadiums, and cardiac arrests are one of the more commonly shared ones.

Some end in tragedy but, thanks to the fantastic medical care that is now on offer inside football stadiums, many do not and supporters live to watch another game.

One such fan is FSA member and Nottingham Forest Supporters’ Trust secretary Bob Whetton, 73, who followed his team to Brighton’s Amex Stadium for their Premier League fixture on Tuesday 18th October.

Bob’s life was saved by emergency intervention, in the form of chest compressions, by St John Ambulance and an automated defibrillator stored in a public area in the stadium. The entire incident was captured on the Amex’s CCTV system and shows just how quickly volunteers reacted to save Bob’s life.

“I arrived after kick-off and was making my way to the away turnstile when I collapsed. A steward spotted me and within 90 seconds there were three St John Ambulance volunteers and within another 60 seconds they had the defibrillator on me,” says Bob.

“When you look at the stats, time is everything. Technically I’d died and the speed they worked at saved my life. It was a bit like when Christian Eriksen collapsed and his teammates formed a circle, at the Amex the stewards did that so the medics could focus on things.”

Bob is the the seventh person to have had a cardiac arrest at the Amex Stadium since its opening 11 years ago – and amazingly all have survived thanks to the quick action of medical professionals and St John Ambulance volunteers.

Defibrillators & CPR saves lives

If you collapse with trained people and a defibrillator on hand, as is the case at many football stadiums, your chances of survival are greatly increased.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says only 7-8% of people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest but immediate initiation of CPR can double or quadruple survival rates.

“Defibrillation within three to five minutes of collapse can produce survival rates up to 50–70%. Each minute of delay reduces the probability of survival to hospital discharge by 10%,” says NICE.

Back in February Joe Cosgrove, a doctor who works for Durham County Cricket Club and Newcastle United, told us there was actually evidence from multiple countries that tense, high-stakes games can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, especially in men. It adds further focus to the duty of care clubs have for matchgoers.

Knowing what action to take in such situations saves lives – friends, family members and your fellow fans can all benefit if you know what to do when someone has a cardiac arrest.

The British Heart Foundation has some great resources on their website including an entirely free course called RevivR which teaches CPR in 15 minutes.

Setting aside some time to do it could save a loved one’s life.

Next steps

This isn’t the end of the story for Bob who hopes to raise awareness about the importance of CPR training and ensure that defibrillators are publicly accessible far more widely.

Bob explains: “On that afternoon I’d actually travelled from Wembley where I’d been at an FSA Women’s Game Network meeting – I could have collapsed on the train while travelling to the Amex and I’d no longer be here.

“As I now qualify for a free defib, my wife and I are going to match fund that as my desire is to raise funds to put this equipment into the women’s game too.

“In an ideal world this could lead to charitable arms helping clubs to provide defibs and CPR training at their grounds – and grow more life savers by using the power of football.”

And in the meantime Bob is “keen to get back” to games post-Christmas after being blown away by the reaction from fellow fans.

“The response from the FSA and other fans has been remarkable. My brother has been going to matches and people are still coming up and asking how I am while other club’s supporters have been in touch, setting aside tribal issues, to wish me well,” says Bob.

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