Cardiff City fan and Cardiac Arrest Survivor urges people to learn CPR

A dad from Cardiff who survived a cardiac arrest has joined football legends including Graeme Souness and David Ginola in urging people in Wales, and across the UK, to learn CPR.

Andrew Barnett, 50, is part of a line-up who have joined forces with Sky Bet and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) for the Every Minute Matters campaign, which is urging more than a quarter of a million people to learn the lifesaving skill.

Taking his place in the ‘Re-Starting 11’, Andrew stood shoulder to shoulder at the iconic Wembley stadium with fellowcardiac arrest survivors Tom Lockyer, Fabrice Muamba, and Wigan Athletic Striker Charlie Wyke.

“I don’t remember playing in the game.”

Working in the sports industry, Andrew was someone who enjoyed fitness and exercise.

“I consider myself to be very fit – we are competitive people in the sports industry. I used to go to the gym four or five times a week, swim, and take part in weights classes.”

He was at Eastern Leisure Centre in Cardiff when his life was saved by strangers in December 2018.

Andrew said, “I’d taken my son to football practice where they had a ‘Dads vs Boys’ Christmas football match. I was running around as normal, kicking the ball. From what everyone tells me afterwards, I pretty much just fell straight on my face.”

Andrew had suffered a cardiac arrest, and his life was saved from the quick actions of those around him.

The leisure centre duty manager, Ben Clarke, 38, was in the office when he was told about Andrew’s collapse.

“Someone ran from the pitch into the centre to raise the alarm, so I rushed out with a few colleagues to assess the situation. We do CPR and Defibrillator training once a month at the centre, but you never think you’re going to have to use it. I took responsibility for CPR while my colleague took charge of the defibrillator. It was an anxious wait for emergency services to arrive. The whole thing was like an out-of-body experience, but we were so relieved when we found out that Andrew had survived.”

Andrew’s heart was restarted after a single shock from the defibrillator. When the paramedics arrived, they did all their checks and took over before Andrew was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Andrew added, “I don’t remember playing in the game and I remember very little of the day before. There were no warning signs – I wasn’t struggling or feeling under the weather. I don’t think I really knew what a cardiac arrest was until the team in the hospital explained it to me. Doctors told me that being fit and healthy helped my outcome, but I know I am very fortunate that I was in a location that had trained staff.”

Once in hospital, Andrew was treated for a blocked coronary artery with a stent and medication and has since returned to an active life once more. He has also developed a friendship with the stranger that saved his life.

Ben added, “We’ve become friends out of a tough situation, and now share a common cause that means a lot to us. We are here to show the importance of learning CPR.”

Andrew and Ben

Wales International Tom Lockyer, who met Andrew earlier this month as part of the Every Minute Matters Campaign, said

“Meeting Andrew and the rest of our unique team of survivors was a great day. Having this shared experience with people across the football spectrum meant the group came together on the same level to highlight the importance of CPR Training. Hopefully us coming together will inspire more people to learn CPR and help save more lives.”

There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year, equating to at least five every 90 minutes. Each minute that passes without CPR reduces the chance of survival by up to 10 per cent.

Tragically, less than one in ten people survive, often because those around them lack the skills or confidence to perform CPR.

Every Minute Matters aims to engage 270,000 people – the equivalent of three Wembley’s – to learn lifesaving CPR in just 15 minutes with RevivR, the BHF’s free and easy to use digital tool over the next 12 months.

Andrew and the The ‘Re-Starting 11’ which also includes BHF Ambassador David Ginola and Derby County defender Megan Tinsley, will play a vital role throughout the Sky Bet Play-Offs by raising awareness, providing insight into their own experience and delivering hands on practical support to help the public learn CPR.

And the drive to raise £3 million for the BHF’s lifesaving work has already begun, with Sky Bet donating £10,000 for every goal scored in the Sky Bet Play-Offs.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive at British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “Andrew’s story is a powerful reminder that CPR saves lives.

“These lifesaving skills really can really be the difference between life and death. That’s why we’re urging everyone to take 15 minutes – the length of the half-time interval – to learn CPR via our free online tool RevivR during this year’s Sky Bet EFL Play-Offs.

“Together we hope we will equip thousands more fans with the knowledge and confidence to perform CPR and use a defibrillator in the crucial moments following a cardiac arrest – because in the ultimate medical emergency, every minute really does matter.”

Sky Bet Chief Commercial Officer Steve Birch said: “We’re incredibly proud to be working with the British Heart Foundation on the ‘Every Minute Matters’ campaign and really hope it can make a big difference by encouraging over a quarter of a million people to learn CPR.

“It’s extraordinary to think that in just 15 minutes people can learn such a valuable skill and the real-life stories from the ‘Re-Starting 11’ are truly powerful.”

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