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Sudden Cardiac arrest events – On his way to the Amex Stadium, Brighton’s home ground, Bob had gone via Wembley for a meeting with the Women’s FA to discuss how to improve female participation in football.

The Wembley meeting was why he was a little late for kick-off at 7.30pm. Hurrying towards the stadium, he experienced a few seconds of chest pains. Then his next memory, lying on the asphalt outside the stadium, was of a team of medics calling out instructions to check his blood pressure and how conscious he was.

He’d had a cardiac arrest and had effectively died until simple first aid skills — and an automated defibrillator stored in a public area at the stadium — brought him back to life.

A cardiac arrest is where the heart suddenly stops working so can no longer pump blood. It’s often confused with a heart attack (which is caused by a lack of blood, due to a clot in the blood vessels supplying the heart).

About 15 per cent of heart attacks go on to cause a cardiac arrest, either because of direct damage to the heart or because the part of the heart that is damaged is the electrical circuitry, which then malfunctions; essentially the heart ‘quivers’ — medically known as ventricular fibrillation.

But a large number of cardiac arrests are caused directly by electrical problems within the heart. Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen was the most famous example of this: he had a cardiac arrest in June 2021 while playing for Denmark in the Euros, and was shocked back to life.

Bob was fortunate for three reasons. He collapsed near people who knew how to do CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and had the type of cardiac arrest that affects the electrics of the heart so responds to being shocked by a defibrillator. But, crucially, he collapsed near such a device.

He was the seventh person to have had a cardiac arrest at the Amex since it opened in 2011. All seven have not only survived, but like Bob, gone on to enjoy a great quality of life after.

Cardiac arrest – So why is it that a football stadium can have a 100 per cent survival rate when the usual rate is only five per cent?

First, CPR was performed on Bob as soon as he went into cardiac arrest

In Bob’s case it was performed by St John Ambulance members; however, anyone can do it and it’s simple to learn. If you see someone collapsed, the first thing to do is see if there’s any signs of life. If not, dial 999 and start CPR.

Some people are put off attempting it because of the idea of the ‘kiss of life’. The name — cardio-pulmonary resuscitation — is also a problem as people think you need to resuscitate the lungs too.

But that’s just not the case. The latest evidence shows it’s just the chest compressions that members of the public need to do. Press down hard and fast (at roughly the tempo of the Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive) and to a depth of a third of the chest. (People are also worried about cracking ribs — don’t be. I’d rather be alive with some healing broken ribs, than dead with a perfect chest.) The quicker CPR starts, the higher the survival rate — after five minutes without CPR, the heart stops fibrillating, making a successful resuscitation much less likely.

By doing compressions, you take over the role of the heart in pumping blood around the body, keeping the brain alive. For every minute’s delay in starting CPR, survival falls by eight per cent.

More automated defibrillators are also needed – like fire extinguishers are already, this should become part of regulations for public buildings, for instance.

And you can also play a part — learning to do CPR, going on a first aid course or raising money for a defibrillator for your local park/school.

But most importantly, remember that starting CPR and applying an automated defibrillator on someone without signs of life can do no harm — and could help more people like Bob live.

As Bob said: ‘I’m only alive because I happened to have had a cardiac arrest where there were life-savers present and defibs available. I can’t put into words how lucky and grateful I am.’

For more information on Cardiac arrest please visit the British Heart Foundation

For more information on our Automated External Defibrillator training course or any other training course offered by Training Solutions North West and how we can help you find the right training courses for your business please email us or alternatively, call us on 0151 515 0416 and speak with one of our training Consultants.