Five people have had cardiac arrests at the Amex since it opened in 2011 – and all have survived.
The chances of one person living after one is one in 20 – but the odds of five is a staggering one in 3.2 million.
Picture it. You go to watch a game of football, perhaps tell your family you will be back in time for dinner, but then never come home. For Paul Forrester, that was so nearly the case.
The 46-year-old Brighton supporter suffered a cardiac arrest at the Amex Stadium in March 2018, leaving him with a one in 20 chance of survival as he lay unconscious on the concourse.
Brighton went on to lose to Leicester 2-0 but Paul, thankfully, did not lose his life. Yet in what medical experts are describing as truly extraordinary, he is not alone in having experienced this.
In total, five fans have suffered cardiac arrests at the Amex since it was opened in 2011, but all five were brought back from the dead by staff on site.
Paul returned to the Amex for the first time since that day in March for the game against Manchester United,
‘It changed my life,’ says Paul. ‘The club has changed my life. It was the Leicester match. I had a friend who could not make it so I took his ticket in the West Stand.
‘The first sign was I felt a little nauseated, then the next thing I remember was waking up in hospital.
‘You kind of picture yourself, walked past there, walked past there, did that. It’s making me a little nervous but it is good to be back and watch the Albion.
‘I really appreciate what they (Brighton’s stewards and medical staff) have done. I cannot believe it. I’m still lost for words. If it wasn’t for them, I would not be here today.’
This was an emotional return to the Amex for Paul for multiple reasons, particularly given Brighton go on to beat Manchester United 1-0 and secure Premier League safety.
After collapsing at the Leicester match, Paul received 10 minutes of compression then four shocks to be revived. The steward who first found him on the floor by the bathrooms and radioed for help was James Hood.
“It was a shock,’ says James. ‘When you come to work, you don’t expect to see a gentleman lying on the floor. It was shocking.’
Once Paul was discovered, the clock started. James alerted his superiors, including Dr Rob Galloway, the club’s crowd doctor.
‘When it happens, you don’t have a heartbeat,’ says Dr Galloway. ‘You are affectively dead. That has happened five times at this stadium since it opened.’One in 20 survive. To have five survive, the chances are one in 3.2million. It’s not just a luck thing, it’s an organised thing.’
‘The chances of surviving are one in 20. On each occasion, we have had an amazing outcome where they have all survived with completely normal quality of life, come back to be season-ticket holders, brains totally functional.
‘One in 20 survive. To have five survive, the chances are one in 3.2million. It’s not just a luck thing, it’s an organised thing.’
Trevor Moss, the St John Ambulance district manager who is stationed in the stadium’s control room weekly, adds: ‘It’s the training that the first aiders get. CPR is the biggest thing we push, we train, so when they get round to doing it, it’s just automatic mode.’
Not many people can say their football club saved their lives but Paul is one of five who can.
Main photo – Brighton fan Paul Forrester (centre) has been reunited with medical staff who saved his life in March